GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

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Links to interesting Yellowstone websites and news.

The National Park Service has announced a proposal to charge larger fees for seventeen of its most popular parks, beginning next spring. I learned about this through the excellent KQED California Bay Area radio program, “Forum,” and considered registering a comment with the NPS.

Considering the dire condition that many of our parks are now in due to underfunding by the federal government, it probably makes sense to raise entrance fees for people who are actually using these parks, especially during the busiest seasons (May through September for Yellowstone).

A caller to the program brought up the subject of charging more for people from other countries than for U.S. citizens—a thought that had also crossed my mind while I was listening. After all, when Congress passed the 1872 act setting aside Yellowstone, the very first national park in the world, they stipulated that it was “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” and chances are they were thinking of American people. Whether or not charging more for foreign visitors is a good idea (and I’m not sure it is), that is not a consideration included in the present proposed fee change.

Decide for yourself whether this fee hike would be a wise move by going to: [link] the NPS website.

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Artemisia Geyser near Biscuit Basin

Happy National Public Lands Day! Did you know that admission to all U.S. national parks is free today? National Public Lands Day is always on a Saturday in late September, and some parks hold special events.

To celebrate, we would like to be sure you know about the Official Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest, “Share the Experience.” This contest is sponsored by the National Park Foundation and FindYourPark.com/EncuentraTuParque.com. Through December 31, 2017, amateur photographers are invited to submit photos that highlight the best of America’s federal lands, national parks, and historical sites in various categories. The grand prize includes getting your image on the Annual Federal Recreational Lands Pass (2019), which is distributed to over 300,000 people annually, plus $10,000 and a bunch of camera gear. Wouldn’t it be cool to see an image from Yellowstone National park on the pass? The 2nd and 3rd prizes also include money and camera gear. You can see the winning photos from 2016 as well as more recent photos in the gallery at the Share the Experience website. That is also the place to learn about the contest rules and guidelines.

—Enjoy! Beth Chapple, Editor and Publisher

Photo Credit: Janet Chapple, June 2015. You can reach Artemisia Geyser’s beautiful pool and formation in one of two ways. One is by walking beyond Riverside Geyser about half a mile up what used to be the main road and is now a rather rough trail past Morning Glory Pool (page 95 in Yellowstone Treasures) or by parking at Biscuit Basin and crossing the road to reach the other end of the trail from Morning Glory Pool.

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Bison in town? Oh my!

Categories: Flora and Fauna, On the Web, Wildlife
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Toward the end of a remarkable Montana Public Radio series we see and hear from high school students in Gardiner, Montana, who have learned how to get along with bison on their football field. Now I know how they get rid of the bison patties I’ve often seen there, especially in winter and early spring. Students with detention get to pick them up and put them in buckets.

Bison in north central Montana from MPR podcast, Episode 1

I first mentioned the seven-part podcast titled Threshold from MPR in my May 17th blog post. Since then, I’ve made it a point to listen to all the parts. It’s well worth the half hour each one takes. Amy Martin and her team are doing a superb job giving us a balanced and often moving report on what is being done to bring large numbers of bison back to northern Montana’s plains. Until the end of the nineteenth century, an estimated sixty million of them roamed the Great Plains and were essential to the natives’ way of life.

In the Yellowstone Treasures section on Living Things, I explain that the bison “symbolizes the wide open spaces of the West. Ironically, the bison is also probably the most grievous case of man’s wanton destruction of a natural resource in America’s history. Not only did hunters nearly eradicate the bison during the late 1800s, but the slaughter was actually encouraged by the government to suppress the Native American Indians who depended upon them.”

Listen to the MPR podcast to learn what Montana’s tribes and other interested people are doing to help restore bison to the plains.

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New Youth Campus proposed for Mammoth Hot Springs area

Categories: History, On the Web
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Having returned from my Yellowstone trip several weeks ago now and not expecting to be able to go again this year, I’m reduced to reading all I can find about the park in order to keep current. I’ve just read some of the National Park Service’s Environmental Assessment for the proposed Youth Campus. I hope that Alternative C will be built on the land where the Mammoth Horse Corral was formerly located. Of course, I don’t know for sure that this is going to happen, but I am trusting enough to mention it in Yellowstone Treasures’ Fifth Edition (pages 269–70).

The proposal would bring as many as 140 young people to work and enjoy the park each summer and house them in lovely modern surroundings while they are there. Being concerned that the important historical features in the area should be carefully preserved, I just sent a comment to that effect. I included a suggestion that a separate access road and small parking area be available for visitors to the small (formerly military) cemetery started there in 1888. Although the soldiers’ graves have been relocated elsewhere, the cemetery is still a beautiful spot and should be carefully preserved for posterity.

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Just for fun . . .

Categories: Geysers, On the Web
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I’m sharing my early afternoon thrill of tuning in to the Old Faithful Streaming Webcam at 1258 today, seeing that Beehive Geyser’s Indicator was spouting among the gorgeous colors of spring, and waiting only until 1305 for Beehive itself to erupt to its 150-to-200-foot glory, as it does once or twice a day.

Now that the park is open and predictions are posted, you can catch all the daylight eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser. There are also views from nine static webcams scattered around the park that you can look at by scrolling down below the map of Upper Geyser Basin to “Other Webcam Views. . . .”

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Science Times tackles the complex Yellowstone wolf scene

Categories: On the Web, Science, Wildlife
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Brad Bulin wolf pelt 2006 In this Tuesday’s “Science Times” section of the New York Times, freelance science writer Jim Robbins explains the push-pull between the lives of Yellowstone’s wolf packs (and the scientists who study them) and the needs and requirements of hunters and ranchers in the three surrounding states.

Since 2011 Montana and Idaho have been conducting managed wolf hunts, but in Wyoming a U.S. Court of Appeals has only this March approved a wolf-hunting plan that is deemed not to endanger the survival of the species in that state.

All the controversy about wolves stems from the 1995 and ’96 introduction of gray wolves (Canis lupus irremotus) into the park (and also into Idaho) from Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Their population soared within a few years to around 150 wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and scientists like Dr. Douglas Smith found, as quoted by Robbins, that “Yellowstone is the best place in the world to view wolves”—and to study them. This is especially true because the Yellowstone wolves do not fear the thousands of eager visitors who flock there—and incidentally add money to the regional economy. The wolves are thus quite readily visible.

In the years after the introduction of wolves, neighboring ranchers were understandably distressed. Some of their cattle, sheep, and even dogs were killed; before wolf hunting was authorized some ranchers were reimbursed by nonprofit organizations for their losses. It is hoped that protection within the park, combined with limited hunting outside its borders, will provide the needed balance and keep the population of Yellowstone’s wolves to approximately one hundred, as has happened in the last few years.

Robbins tells us much more about the results of research done by Smith and his colleagues. Longevity and social hierarchy within the packs are now better understood, and observation has revealed that wise older wolves serve an important role. Dr. Smith believes that packs are matrilineal. “Males come and go . . . but Gramma, Mom, and the daughter are the ones that stick around.” Here is a link to the whole article, “The New Threat to Wolves in and around Yellowstone.”

For some earlier blog posts about wolves here at YellowstoneTreasures.com, just enter “wolves” in the search bar.

Photo is of Yellowstone Forever Institute instructor Brad Bulin showing a wolf pelt, winter 2006. Photo by Janet Chapple.

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News about Yellowstone opening weekend

Categories: News, On the Web, Science, Trip planning
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I.
Today is the first day you can drive into the park from the North or East Entrance. What’s more, those of us stuck at home can now get predictions of the daytime eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser on the NPS website.

But, if you are anything like me, you are mostly celebrating that the time for your summer trip to this wonderful park is drawing nearer. Just one thing that may give us pause as we contemplate the sights we are anticipating seeing: the crowds are likely to be amazingly large.

Here are links to a University of Montana report (2.7 MB pdf file) on 2016 crowding in that state’s two national parks and a shorter summary of the report, emphasizing Yellowstone, by Sean Reichard of YellowstoneInsider.com.

II.
If you should happen to be one of the people driving into Yellowstone this weekend, you may want to take part in tomorrow’s Earth Day Walk for Science at Old Faithful. This echoes the Washington, DC, Walk for Science. As an ever-curious non-scientist, if I lived anywhere near the park, I would certainly want to participate in that.

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Another way to share: Tumblr

Categories: On the Web, Through Early Yellowstone
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In an effort to reach more people and explore the world, Granite Peak Publications is now on Tumblr in addition to Facebook and Twitter. Here’s our first post, sharing another picture from the historical anthology, Through Early Yellowstone (2016), which you can buy from this site or from an on-line or brick-and-mortar bookseller.
—Beth, Editor and Publisher

https://editorbeth.tumblr.com/post/157535481520/mammoth-hot-springs-focusin-on-cleopatra-springs

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Success reported in saving Yellowstone’s cutthroat trout

Categories: Flora and Fauna, On the Web, Wildlife
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An excellent article quoted from the Cody Enterprise on YellowstoneInsider.com tells about the remarkable turnaround in the fishing scene in our oldest national park. Since the mid 1990s, when large lake trout were introduced into Yellowstone Lake from an unknown source, the carnivorous fish have been devouring native cutthroats, a so-called keystone species. Combating them has been a struggle, since lake trout swim and spawn in the deepest water, while cutthroat trout swim near the surface and spawn in inlet streams.

lake trout cutthroat trout

Trout comparison (NPS Photo)

The National Park Service and the Yellowstone Park Foundation have cooperated in fighting lake trout since soon after they were discovered, but at first with limited success. In the last six years, however, things have been turning around. Gillnetting and electrofishing removed about 300,000 lake trout last year. And the latest technique is particularly effective. Quoting the Yellowstone Insider article: “over the past few years, crews have started catching and attaching telemetry gadgets to the fish; telemetry allows crews to trace lake trout to their spawning beds and remove both fish and fry from them.”

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From the Desk of Janet Chapple

Categories: Bio, Janet Chapple's Other Writing, On the Web
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Personal Essay for University of Nebraska Press’s #FindYourPark Series

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

At the invitation of the publisher of the travelogue by Jules Leclercq that I translated with my colleague Suzanne Cane, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, I’ve recently written about my personal connection with Yellowstone National Park for their website.

Reflecting a lifetime association with the park—or, at least, a strong association during some of my very early years and then again since the age of sixty—I’ve written about my early memories of being there and why Yellowstone means so much to me that I continue to research and write about it during years when I might be taking it easy.

I hope my blog readers might be inspired to reward themselves with repeated visits to this richly fascinating and incomparable national treasure.

Photo credit: The image of the Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley is an NPS photo.

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