GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Books accompanying travelers to the Park since 2002

All posts in On the Web

Links to interesting Yellowstone websites and news.

Wolves are “just like us”!

Categories: On the Web, Science, Wildlife
Comments Off on Wolves are “just like us”!

YT174 copy

Yellowstone’s wolves are always in the news. Back in late 2012 the Obama administration lifted federal protection for wolves in Wyoming. In the year following, trophy hunters killed 62 wolves. An unknown number were shot or trapped. Then, on September 13 of this year, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson returned Wyoming wolves to Endangered Species Act protection. Wyoming’s congressional delegation has now pledged to go to Congress in an effort to get wolves again delisted in the state.

As the legislative ping-pong game continues, Doug Smith, Yellowstone wildlife biologist and leader of the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, has fascinating things to say in a 23-minute Iowa Public Radio interview about the history of wolf re-introduction in the park and the present state of wolves.

Tempting you to listen to this excellent interview, I’ll mention a couple of highlights of Doug’s remarks.

Although the next official count will take place in mid winter, current Yellowstone wolf numbers are at approximately 130 wolves in 11 packs.

In discussing the ongoing argument about Canadian wolves being introduced, thus bringing in a different subspecies from those that historically lived in and around Wyoming, Doug explains that over the decades when no wolves lived there, no exchange of genes could take place due to geographic isolation. He states that there are now 5 subspecies in North America, not the many more claimed by some people.

Doug points out that Yellowstone is now returning to “ecological functionality”—big words for the balance achieved in the environment by returning wolves to the park.

He completely empathizes with the ranchers in the ring of land that circles the Greater Yellowstone public land, where wolves now live. Unavoidably, preying on their livestock is a big problem, but ideas to cope with this are multiplying.

Replying to a listener’s question about attacks on humans, he stresses that wolves are afraid of humans and/or “can’t figure us out because we walk on two legs.” He suggests that the big, bad wolf stories may be based on some historical attacks but could well have been referring to rabid wolves.

Doug will be giving a talk at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union, 8:00 pm on Monday, November 3. In his interview he lists an impressive list of human traits found in wolves: they are monogamous, good parents, territorial, and communicate by body postures and many quiet vocalizations—as well as howling. And he concludes, “They’re just like us!”

Share Button

Rebecca and Ryan Means from Florida are gradually fulfilling an unusual goal. They’re hiking “on a quest to identify and visit the most remote locations in each of the 50 states.”

Not just enjoying the out-of-doors far from civilization, they have a mission. The essence of their philosophy is shown in Ryan Means’ answer to a comment last year on his website, remotefootprints.org: “The conservation problem arises when loud, fuel consumptive, destructive, motorized vehicles enter wildlands. The landscape gets scarred. Habitat and wilderness character get lost. Another roadless wildland gets fragmented. Then development usually follows. We are basically calling for an end to the era of road building (and sprawling development) in our great country, especially in public lands.”

They hike carrying heavy packs—Rebecca’s includes a carrier for five-year-old Skyla. So far they have written up their visits to remote spots in 23 states. They don’t always find solitude, but they do get far away from roads and navigable rivers. They especially loved Wyoming’s most remote spot, the Thorofare corner of Yellowstone, 21.6 miles by their reckoning from the nearest road, even farther by trail. The Means’s experiences on this trip have not yet appeared on their website, but their trip was mentioned on October 4, 2014 in the Rapid City (SD) Journal.

Reading this, I thought of one of the selections in my upcoming book (with the working title, Magnificent Playground: Early Yellowstone in Words and Watercolors). I was reminded of Barton Evermann’s 1891 commission to find how trout got into Yellowstone Lake. He visited and carefully described a phenomenal place called Two-Ocean Pass, just south of the Thorofare and the park’s border.

My own related delight is in finding places—even in the hills just above my noisy downtown Oakland—where stopping on a trail you hear no sound, unless it’s a distant bird or a trickling stream. It clears the head. And there are so many such places to be found in Yellowstone. . . .

Share Button

Heads Up: Free Park Admission

Categories: On the Web, Trip planning
Comments Off on Heads Up: Free Park Admission

park entrance sign

As you enter the park heading south on U.S. 191, you are greeted by this sign and Black Butte.

This Saturday, September 27, 2014, is National Public Lands Day. That means that not only the U.S. national parks, but also lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service waive their fees to visitors so you can get out and appreciate the beauty of our parks and refuges for free.

Not only are fees waived, but thousands of volunteers help out on this day every year. According to the National Public Lands Day website:

In 2013, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,237 sites in every state, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.
NPLD volunteers:

  • Collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants
  • Built and maintained an estimated 1,500 miles of trails
  • Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants
  • Removed an estimated 500 tons of trash from trails and other places
  • Contributed an estimated $18 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country

The photo above, taken by Leslie Kilduff, can be found on page 33 of the guidebook’s fourth edition.

Three cheers for volunteers! And enjoy your Saturday in a park or refuge.
—Beth, editor of Yellowstone Treasures

Share Button

A Different Take on Yellowstone Wolves

Categories: On the Web, Wildlife
Comments Off on A Different Take on Yellowstone Wolves

Here’s a newspaper story from Twin Falls, Idaho, that was not what I expected but was fun to read.

And the picture reminds me that in 16 more days I will get to join the wolf-watchers in Lamar Valley!

Share Button

When planning to camp during your Yellowstone trip, you will find the chart of the 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone on page 365 of Yellowstone Treasures to be helpful. But keep in mind there are many more opportunities just outside the park, both private and public.

Beartooth Butte

Beartooth Butte

Six national forests either border Yellowstone National Park or are very nearby. In Shoshone National Forest, outside the East Entrance, there are 31 campgrounds. At the foot of Beartooth Butte lies crystal-clear Beartooth Lake. There you’ll find a campground with 21 sites, a picnic area, fishing, hiking trails, and a boat ramp. Shoshone was the first national forest in the United States. You can find out more and get a full-color visitor guide by calling 1-307-527-6241 or visiting the Shoshone National Forest website.

All the nearby national forests are clearly marked on the maps in the guidebook, and we include a phone directory for the ranger districts near the approach roads to the park.

—Editor Beth Chapple

Share Button

A National Monument West of Yellowstone—Great Idea!

Categories: News, On the Web, Park environs
Comments Off on A National Monument West of Yellowstone—Great Idea!

I’ve just learned that President Obama has designated an area called Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument. I was reading
Rocky Barker’s post in the Idaho Statesman, and his beautiful photo of Upper Mesa Falls took me back to the several pleasant visits I’ve made to that area. What a great idea to make this area, already public land in Caribou-Targhee National Forest, a national monument! Here’s the same view from Yellowstone Treasures.

114_Upper_Mesa_Falls

Both Upper and Lower Mesa Falls are worth a detour off U.S. 20. Besides the falls, the area sports beautiful 1930s stonework, good visitor access, and the Big Falls Inn’s small visitor center. Those of us who have been there should urge President Obama to use his ability soon to designate this part of Idaho just west of and contiguous with Yellowstone Park as a national monument. A portion of Yellowstone Treasures’ map on page 115 shows where the falls are located along Idaho state road 47.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 1.55.39 PM

Share Button

What it’s like when plowing Yellowstone’s roads

Categories: On the Web, Transportation, Winter
Comments Off on What it’s like when plowing Yellowstone’s roads

I’m a big fan of Brett French’s writings in the Billings Gazette. Today I want to share his simile of what the snow-plowing crew experiences each spring while clearing the roads.

“About 7 miles north of West Thumb along the shore [lies] still-frozen Yellowstone Lake. That’s about an hour’s drive south from the plow crew’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo. Although the sun is shining intensely, the entire landscape at this elevation of about 7,700 feet is still buried under several feet of sound-stifling snow, like a huge cotton ball stuffed inside Yellowstone’s volcanic caldera ear [italics mine]. And even though today is warm and sunny, the crew has frequently suffered through days with temperatures bottoming out at 20-below zero or colder, or had storms or wind blow snow back on top of just-cleared pavement.”

The whole article is at “Yellowstone plow crews labor to open park for spring visitors.”

Share Button

Fresh snow at Old Faithful

Categories: Geysers, News, On the Web, Winter
Comments Off on Fresh snow at Old Faithful

snowfall Old Faithful

Finally! A real snow cover at Old Faithful Village.

Yesterday was the last day of March, and at last we have a lot of snow on the ground at Old Faithful Village. From a screen shot I took yesterday morning, you can see that the snow now comes to the top of the post holding the Old Faithful Geyser sign. With no wind at all the trees were gorgeous, and seeing this takes me back to magical winter visits to the park.

You can see this for yourself at: www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

Share Button

SPRING CLOSURES—roads close for plowing
February 28: East Entrance
March 1: Mammoth to Norris road
March 2: Madison-Norris-Canyon road
March 16: South Entrance

SPRING/SUMMER SEASON ROAD OPENINGS
April 18: West Entrance
May 2: East Entrance
May 9: South Entrance

Note that not all hotels, cabins, and campgrounds open when the roads do.
For information about this year’s facility openings, see
the National Park Service’s Plan Your Visit page for Yellowstone.

Share Button

Continuing interest in the Anthropocene

Categories: On the Web, Science
Comments Off on Continuing interest in the Anthropocene

Since I find it quite fascinating, I may be following up on my January 22 through February 4 series on the Anthropocene for a while yet. For other people who would like to know more about this still rather unfamiliar word and its implications, webmaster/daughter Beth has found a short and succinct video.

And for people who are willing to invest twenty minutes or so watching a mini-lecture from the point of view of a Swedish anthropology professor, try this.

Then, as if we didn’t have enough syllables in the word already, there’s a long technical article on Science Direct with a new twist, The Palaeoanthropocene.

Share Button