Greatest Yellowstone Fishing – 1870’s – 1890’s?


The new six inches of snow has given me time to chase records and historical accounts for climate during the early years of Yellowstone National Park. rml-extinct.jpgIt’s became apparent that the years from the 1870’s to the 1890’s are pivotal in my understanding of the weather during this time period. This is when the accounts are most frequent and everything is “new.”

An interesting byproduct of the research was my discovery of the continued references to the Rocky Mountain Locust and the enormous swarms noted during that era. This insect is now extinct.

The reports of fishing done in the park by the early explorers invariably mention the efficacy of using grasshoppers. haynes-yell.jpgThis is not a coincidence. Yellowstone’s famous Grasshopper Glacier, (and several others,) give testament to the hoards blown into the region that was to become Yellowstone.

In my background page on Yellowstone’s Current Trout Species is an article by John Byorth excerpted from The Magazine of Western History. In it he makes mention of the early explorer Gustavus Doane and his advice on catching trout.

“Despite present-day lamentations that wealthy outsiders are ruining western fishing sites with high-priced garb and outsider ideals, the greater Yellowstone region has been an elite fishing hole from the git-go. These men spread the word about Yellowstone’s exceptional fishing, writing in their journals, gabbing at cocktail parties, and blowing cigar smoke over fine Scotch about their piscatorial exploits. While the smoke has long since cleared, their journal entries preserve those classic park fishing stories. Gustavus Doane, for example, wrote in 1870 that “the Yellowstone trout … numbers are perfectly fabulous. [U]sing [grasshoppers] for bait, the most awkward angler can fill a champagne basket in an hour or two.” Nathaniel Langford described “catching forty of the fine trout,” a particularly successful day for his fishing partner Cornelius Hedges. Soon national and local newspapers, as well as periodicals such as Forest and Stream, American Angler, and Outdoor Life, regularly reported Yellowstone fish stories-some humorous, most glorious.”

Several things can be noted from this brief quote: Yellowstone Fly Fishing has always had an elitist-tinge to it, it is written about by people from distant places, it is a male activity, the catches of fish are exceptional, grasshoppers work.

I wonder, and speculate, if the extinction of the Rocky Mountain Locust, and the gradual and continual decline of the Yellowstone fishery has as much to do with global warming as it does with human intervention.

Certainly overfishing, invasive species, and low water levels are contributory to the recent poor fishing on the Yellowstone River. mammothdining.gifCertainly increased agricultural pressure, drought, and fire contributed to the extinction of the great locust. I just wonder if these are not part and parcel of the same very large event that we are just now beginning to comprehend?

Anyway, just how wonderful would it have been to catch a bushel basket full of 25″ cutthroat, and have them prepared by the kitchen staff at Mammoth for me and a few friends.


A few years ago National Geographic ran a special on the tube about the Rocky Mountain Locust. I vaguely remember it – should have paid more attention! Below are some references to the insect and it’s demise – and entombment in the Grasshopper Glacier.

Wikipedia – Rocky Mountain Locust

National Geographic – The Perfect Swarm (1)

National Geographic – The Perfect Swarm (2)

The Death Of The Super Hopper

The Great Locust Mystery

The Rocky Mountain Locust – Extinction and the American Experience

Are We Really That Dumb ?


ir-image.jpgMy Recent Post: “Yellowstone, Global Warming, & Chicken Little,” has zoomed to the top of the most read posts on this little ol’ blog. For what ever reason, it’s both gratifying and a bit disconcerting, (it’s now included in the Yellowstone pages.)

There is, however, a distinction that must be made in the discussion of global warming. The distinction is one of scale and scope. Weather and climate are related but very different creatures and, yet, in most discussions are, (very sadly,) used interchangeably.

Weather is the set of conditions in the atmosphere that obtain for a relatively brief period. What happens on a daily, weekly, or monthly, basis is the weather. It refers to: moisture, clouds, wind, pressures, temperatures, etc. But this is not climate.

Climate, on the other hand is the prevailing conditions of persistent weather patterns over a much longer span of time. Usually several years, or decades. Or, for that matter millenia. As such it is a bit less precise, and a bit more generalized.

stormclouds-from-breaktaker.jpgWe can go out of our front door and take a picture of the weather but not the climate.

Global warming is necessarily concerned first with climate, then with weather. The time scale under discussion is of prime importance. And, we all know – I hope – that as climate changes, the weather undergoes specific, but not always predictable changes as well.

A post at the end of last month in Demarcated Landscapes led me to an excellent publication about the strategies for foresters dealing with climate change. The publication is FORESTS, CARBON AND CLIMATE CHANGE, and is available on line in PDF format. The publication is a synthesis of science findings by: The Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon State University College of Forestry, and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

chart.jpgThe document is full of insights and responses. It contains a brilliant chapter entitled “Global Warming: A Skeptic’s View,” by George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist.

Taylor’s exhaustive discourse is very informative and should be mandatory reading before anyone begins to discuss our current place in the climatic history of the earth – including Al Gore. I recommend it highly, and the rest of the report as well.

On a daily basis I hear people discussing global warming in terms that range from simplistic to moronic. Imagine: ‘the weather in San Francisco will soon be like it is in Los Angeles’ ‘I can’t wait to grow corn in West Yellowstone, Montana,’ ‘will all of Yellowstone be a desert?’ – and on and on.

We can’t be that dumb, – or can we? The concept of global warming has been popularized to the point of simplistic stupidity. And, wonder of wonders, it’s believed in that form. Changing your light bulbs will not save the world. Consuming more raw vegetables will not deter the coming change. Driving electric cars is an economic, and social statement – not an environmental statement.

How do I know this? Because the scientific data we have about past environments and climate, is just that – general information. It’s not about weather. It’s about a whole bunch of specific locations over time.

It’s, consolidated, extrapolated, and generalized. It’s about regions through time and it’s extrapolated from many sources. Deep sea cores, polen cores, ice cores, faunal records, varves, beach levels, dendrochronology, pack rat middens, etc. all provide brief glimpses of the past. Little snippets of weather and environment are combined to provide climate information. This extrapolated paleoclimatology is probably fairly accurate – it does not tell us much about local weather, (except in a few instances,) but it tells us much about climate.

Are we really so dumb that we think we know specifically what to do based on generalized models of the past? We’ll see. The rush is on, and scurrying is taking place. It might be well to remember that our species has endured greater changes in the past and survived, (as have the cockroaches.) I wonder if, in fact, the panicky rush to action is not just a response to a perception of threat against lifestyle as much as a response to an environmental catastrophe?

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do find the jabber about the situation interesting, informative, and entertaining. And, although I do believe that the past is key to the present – I don’t believe that the past holds all the solutions to, nor even a clear picture of the specific conditions in the future. Some, however, do.

Reading For Entertainment

Global Warming: A Threat to Midwest Parks, Too,
How Will Parks Cope With Climate Change ?
The Problem With Carbon Offsets,
Texas: Climate’s Anti-Canary,
The Rain In China Falls Mainly on the Plains, Thanks to Pollution,
Membership: House Committee On Global Warming,
Split Over Nuclear vs. Renewables Threatens EU Global Warming Pact.

Yellowstone, Global Warming & Chicken Little


As this gentle and snow-scarce winter winds down, I was checking the observed vs. expected data accumulation and began to worry that there was not enough cold – or snow to validate the models. Old Faithful experienced temperatures above 40 degrees on two days last week.

dancing-chicken.gifNot to worry, ancillary factors such as cloud cover, reduced visitation, (from 5 years ago,) in Yellowstone, increased NOx, and the robustness of the models have combined to make my ego expand. The models and data showed a gratifying coincidence. There is still a significant amount of pollution along the traffic corridors in the winter.

One byproduct of the current trend in commercialization for winter visitation is the increase in emissions from diesel engines and reduced efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines. This, combined with the near tripling of gasoline engine emissions has not reduced the pollution as much as anticipated by Chicken Little.

The use of tracked vehicles is inefficient and forces snoch-04.jpgthe engines to work harder than if they were propelling the same vehicles on wheels. One example will suffice to illustrate the point. A 15-passenger bus uses about five or six gallons of gasoline to make the 62-mile round trip between the west entrance and Old Faithful when on wheels.

snoch-new-00.jpgThe same vehicle with after-market devices for over-the-snow travel uses between 24 and 35 gallons of gasoline for the same trip, (depending on the condition of the snow and the right foot of the “guide”.) The emissions have to go somewhere.

yelcoach.jpgPushing skis is even less efficient and increases the workload of the engine. This is what the National Park Service sees as “Best Available Technology.”

All is not as simple or as clear cut as it seems. Yellowstone National Park is not going to be much cleaner under the new winter use plan than it was without a plan. It will be quieter for a while though, and the white plumes of 2 cycle exhaust won’t be seen. But, as they say in Los Angeles: “Don’t trust air that you can’t see.”


Global warming is a wonderful catch phrase. It is the ultimate simplistic semantic form for a complex situation. Of course the globe is warming. We know this by measurement and by observation. No longer is there a glacier a mile thick on top of Fountain Flats. Yet the globe is also cooling. It depends on one’s perspective and the time scale involved, and the forces at work. Ultimately this planet will be as dead and cold as the moon, (which is running away from us.)

glacier-gif.gifThe complexity of the situation is similar to, (and greater than,) the situation in Yellowstone Park with winter travel.

The Pliocene was warmer – generally – than now. The Pleistocene was colder – generally – than now. The Hypsithermal was warmer – persistently – than now. The Little Ice Age was colder – measurably – than now.

The warming and cooling cycles of the earth are fairly well known. Their causes are still subject to debate, conversation, investigation, and verification.

The impact on humans has varied from significant to negligible. Extinctions were coincident with parts of several different climatic periods. And, of course, we are beginning to understand that the changes are not uniform around the world in all places and most assuredly not synchronous.

I certainly don’t hear many folks talking about ‘Global Dimming,’ or ‘Darkening,’ or ‘Pollution Reflection,’ or preservation of ‘Angular Momentum(PDF)‘ and, certainly there is seldom heard “Geophysical Impacts of Earth’s Slowing Rotation on Climate.” Regarding our current warming trend: there is more than just a battle against simple foes.

ninonina.jpgWho is busy talking about the oceans & climate change? Try Barron & Thompson, or the American Geophysical Union (AGU), or Mark Powell.

NASA is leading the parade (el nino bibliography,) as is JPL. Of course there are other things to consider too – but you get my point.

The variables are many, and our understanding is just beginning to become clear. Will sea levels really rise 60 meters in New York, or will a bulge of ocean near the equator compensate and preserve the earth’s angular momentum? Will the aerosols really conspire to cook us all, or will the increased cloud cover reduce the absorption of the sun’s rays?

These kinds of questions occupy conscientious scientists – not Chicken Little. An interesting article by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe points us toward some careful thinking, rather than alarmist arm waving. Simplistic thinking is always easier for politicians, journalists, bloggers, and activists. It’s the old “. . . Don’t confuse me with facts . . .” syndrome.

There are a few competent scientists and others that are not in the alarmist camp. Timothy Ball, (Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project,) writes in the Canadian Free Press that we had better get our facts straight before we act or react. Even the Wall Street Journal carried a piece by Richard S. Lindzen about the need for more facts and less lassitude in our popular perceptions of climatology.

Kevin Nelstead’s blog, The Earth Is Not Flat, has several posts that point to our responsibilities in thinking about this matter, (CLICK.)


So, what’s this have to do with Yellowstone? First off, The vegetation and rest of the biota in the park will change with warming; in ways that we may anticipate but cannot precisely predict.

desert-snow.jpgSecondly, the pollution problem in winter is more complex than the just the exhaust of snowmobiles would lead one to believe. The problem is one of constraint & logistics. Total emissions are a function of cubic inches, fuel consumed, and effeciency of transport, (among others.)

As warmer weather continues to make over-the-snow travel more problematic, increasing loads of hydrocarbons will accumulate. Snow packed roads in the ameliorating climate will produce more and more ice crystals as the freeze-thaw boundary gets crossed more frequently. Grooming will be harder, less efficient, and the road conditions will deteriorate more rapidly. (This grooming expense is 100% born by the NPS to subsidize commercial interests.)

Unanticipated factors will come to play in scenarios not yet fully understood. The burden on the National Park Service will grow as it continues to defend the novelty of over-the-snow travel. Snow making machines will be purchased to continue the ‘tradition.’ groomer.jpgAdditional staff and equipment will be required to appease the money hungry gateway concessionaires. Fewer visitors will be allowed in the park in order to “save the snow.”

The length of the ‘shoulder seasons’ will increase to the point that the park will stay open longer for the summer season and shorter for the winter season. Additional fees and higher prices will ensue for the winter season as the NPS allows the over-the-snow crowd to dictate operations.

Current snowmobile visitation is down, (though rebounding,) and only the most wealthy will be allowed into Yellowstone via bus and baby tank. Petroleum products will continue to provide unhealthy levels of pollution – but will be unseen and therefore unregulated.

Finally, by 2070, the park will close in winter – rather than admit that plowing of the roads will reduce pollution, reduce budgets, and enhance the visitor experience.

Yes, there is global warming, it will affect Yellowstone in very short order, and maybe Chicken Little was right.

What about the rest of the planet? We need to know considerably more than we do now. For instance; is it true, as suggested by the Financial Times that we only have 15 – 20 year’s worth of undiscovered oil reserves? Can we count on philanthropy to take up the slack? Will the SLATE 60 come to the rescue?

windy-plains.jpgCan we count on the private sector to rescue Yellowstone and the rest of the parks? Can the government continue to resist cogent planning in favor of novelty transportation? There’s much more to account for in the global arena than in Yellowstone National Park – and we can’t even get that right.

Should you be the sort of person that considers social action, I direct you to STEP IT UP. This grass roots movement has 687 rallies planned for April 14, 2007. A guest post by Cheryl Long, (editor of The Mother Earth News,) provides us with a perfect ending quote.

The Iraq war will cost American taxpayers $2,200,000,000,000—that’s 2.2 trillion dollars—according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. If instead, we had invested that $2.2 trillion in wind turbines, we would now have enough electricity to provide roughly 150 percent of total U.S. energy needs.


Global Whating ??



As noted by Mark Powell over at Blogfish:



bushfire.jpg“Loss of sea ice is linked to global warming, which has recently been admitted by the US government to be caused by humans. In an announcement that 2006 was the warmest year on record, the Bush adminstration (sic) finally admitted that humans are a cause of global warming. Public affairs officials were suprised (sic), since they were used to Bush administration higher-ups trimming such language out of press releases.”

I’m always pleased to find my own opinions and beliefs in concert with such esteemed scientists. I’m also a bit ashamed of myself that I just don’t do the hard things that are going to be necessary to combat global warming.

As a complacent American, probably just like you, I enjoy the enormously comfortable and consumptive life style that the accident of birth has bestowed upon me. The comfort level is hard to give up!

heat.jpgA disturbing book has been reviewed in New West (via Fishing Jones & Fly Fishing In Yellowstone.) The task at hand is something far more painful than we have been led to believe; and seemingly far less achievable.

The David Morris review of the George Monbiot book “HEAT: How To Stop The Planet Burning,” gives me pause to think that I might have to sacrifice and even suffer to help reverse the global warming trend. This is an uncomfortable and unpalatable proposition. I hate pain.

Even more pain: I know of Monbiot but just learned of the book. george_monbiot.jpgShame on me! For those of you interested in his prognosis, and what to do in the next 30 years, here are some sources to get you started. The pain threshold of humans is at stake.

Turn Up The – This really hurts.

George Monbiot @ Wikipedia – How can this be?

An Inconvinient Truth – Slick site, nice music.

Tree Hugger Review – More pain. – One-liners with punch!


It’s 30 degrees below zero here in West Yellowstone. Global warming is hard to contemplate at this temperature. The pain associated with fixing it is not pleasant to think about.

The “Truth” Will Out


grand-canyon-338-x-224.jpgIt seems that I got my panties in a bunch for the absolute wrong reason. The last post about the stupidity of the National Park Circus was partially in error. They are not telling the world that “the flood” created the Grand Canyon. They are merely allowing the selling a book that does. The sad part of it all, is that PEER is playing games with this creationist stupidity.

Two sage and conscientious bloggers have tracked down the “facts,” – such as they are – and bless my bloomers, PEER is ranting in public. Read all about it in Ranger X, and National Parks Traveler. Thanks to these folks I can sleep at night knowing that at least some of the National Park Circus is living in the world of reality.

arial-gc-skyblu.jpgThe same probably can’t be said about PEER.The sad part of it all, is that PEER, is running out of relevancy, and has to resort to this kind of stupidity. They are beginning to tilt at windmills. Sounds like the testosterone bloggers to me. They have lost a bit more credibility in my eyes. After all, they are a major force in getting Yellowstone to denounce public access in winter, in favor of required guide fees and higher entrance fees.

There was an interesting, though slightly jaded, post in Yellowstone Park News about the cost of visiting Yellowstone in the winter. It is becoming clear that no matter what the NPS says, they want to limit travel in the winter – and still whine about reduced visitation.

A fine post in Jim’s Eclectic World points out just how elite the visitors are in Yellowstone. As I’ve noted before, and in the Yellowstone pages here, the Park was initially conceived of as a playground for the wealthy and the privileged. It is rapidly returning to its conceptual beginnings. It’s sad that our national treasures should be reserved for only the very wealthy. But thus it has always been. And the fiction of American Democracy demands a class system that, as Mr. Macdonald says, “Protection of Yellowstone is among other things, protection of a class system; however, that hardly squares with our values of what Yellowstone is supposed to be.”

The cogent thing about this piece is the honest admission that the wealthy will always have access to the splendor of the built environment. They will, also miss much of the park. So it is, too, with the current winter access. Sadly, there is no alternative to canned tours. Plowing the roads in winter would at least open the park to the middle classes, and allow the poor to work as well. There needs to be less advocacy for wealthy values and more for common folks.


gray-fog.jpgOn a lighter note, there is some beautiful scenery here on the beach. The students are getting ready to return to the grind, and the beaches are mostly deserted. So I wander along the strand.

grayday-sb.jpgNew Year’s revels were typical, and the old friends were good to see. There was some good wine to be had, and Trader Joe’s has done themselves proud again. But, for the life of me, specifics seem to have been clouded by the fun

Well, I’ve got to get upstairs and help mom, then pack for the return trip. Seems that the nostrils of Satan have been getting along just fine without me – can’t let that happen.




And I thought that Goleta would insulate me from the absolute imbecility of the real world. HA!, Isla Vista is just laughing its head off.

arrowhd.gifThis is without a doubt the most stupid thing thing that the National Park Circus has done this decade. gc-sign.jpgThey have bowed to the religious fundamentalists in the White House and now must refuse to tell visitors how old the Grand Canyon is, and how it was formed.

This is the same sort of stupidity that causes wars, denies intellectual freedom, and guts the human element from humans. I’m ashamed of the National Park Circus. I’m ashamed that my tax dollars go to support such morons. They are busy peddling a creationist book that supposes that the canyon was caused by “THE FLOOD.”

Soon they will probably say that there are no numbers bigger than 4,004. They will probably become USHERS in the worst sense of the word. They will, as one fine gentleman has said, begin selling Yellowstone as the “Nostrils of Satan.”

Not only will they tell you that they don’t know how old the canyon is, they will lie and say that the Vishnu Schist & Zoroaster Granite are just a few thousand years old. Your NPS is full of liars and dolts. Maybe there should be a test about geology for the employees – one that asks if they can count or read.

The NPS lied to us about reviewing the sale of the book. They lied to us about it’s place in the government run book store. They pretend to allow all points of view. They might as well just ignore all the research that they fund with my tax dollars. The lack of integrity is appalling!

This note belongs in the “RANT” category; however it is clear from a scan of my Bloglines entries and my Tecnhorati searches, that the literate world has reacted in the same way as I have.

createcanyon.jpgFor your edification I’ve created this picture.

Hell, if “HE” can, then so can I. No apologies.

Several sources documenting this outrage are listed below.
From the Public Employees For Environmental to Boing Boing the consensus is about the same. This is the end of responsible management of our National Parks.

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy reacts with a similar view. So too, does Dear Kitty; she even has an even better graphic than the one above. Brad DeLong at Grasping Reality With Both Hands suggest a possible course of action.

An excellent look at this and other problems with the NPS and this White House comes from The Smorgasbord, where we learned how Joe Alston the Superintendent of the Grand Canyon lobbied to keep the book on the shelves and then lied about it.

Even Channel 2 in Nashville is bewildered at the inane stupidity and gross negligence of the reported actions. Their post The End Of Enlightenment asks a simple question: “How did we get this far, when science and good reason are eschewed for faith-based fanaticism?”

If you need to see all the other reactions, just search the blogs and newspapers. It is a widespread reaction, and happily shows that most of us know how old the Grand Canyon really is; even if the NPS is not allowed to tell us. There has, naturally -(supernaturally?) – been no response from the National Park Circus.

I just can’t wait to get back to my home in West Yellowsstone. I think I’ll visit Satan’s Nostrils when I get there.

Louise Kellogg’s Webloglog (&other stuff)


For deep mantle information, a bit of sanity in our universities, and women in science you should check out Louise Kellogg’s Weblog. She is into the mantle and it’s machinations. She has a personal page, (Chair/Department of Geology/UC Davis,) as well.


thermo-bac.jpgThere is a new Web Site about the commercialization of our national parks and the current push for shared dividends from research. You can investigate it at “PARKS NOT FOR SALE.” It all stems from the first commercial use of Thermus aquaticaus, a hot water loving thermophilic bacteria.

Over the years this little critter has generated $$$$$$$$$$$. That’s piles of bucks! The place where it was discovered – Yellowstone National Park – has received 00000000. That’s no bucks. The debate has been sparked again by a newly proposed NPS policy. I first read about this in Yellowstone Park News – the post about Parks Get Royalties. The DEIS is available at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) page. Much of the science behind many of these news stories is presented in the WHY FILES a blog and site that gives us all some insight into the workings of this kind of thing.


I just discovered that I need a new camera – &, I just bought this little devil. It seems that it is possible with some models, (more research in my future,) of digital cameras can produce images from the near infrared spectrum. I’m going to get one. The article in SHUTTERBUG convinced me. Can you imagine what will be possible with pollution plumes? How about the thermic qualities of exposed strata? Golly can you see fish underwater? I’m going to find out – stay tuned.


Well, the sun is out again and it’s a balmy 11 degrees. By the time I get to Biscuit Basin it should be in the high 20’s. The cold kills many flying insects – the fish love it.

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