Do It All Yellowstone


Well, I’m still tired and work is consuming most of my energy, but I find it interesting that wd-kil.jpgthe NPS has not figured out that Yellowstone can’t be all things to all people. The concept of compromise reigns supreme in the minds of politicians, bloggers, cheerleaders, and NPS planners.

Take invasive species in Yellowstone for an example. The National Park Service spends tens of thousands of dollars trying to eradicate botanical species, (but not in Mammoth where they save them to feed the pet elk,) and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to remove Lake Trout. Yet they encourage and even protect invasive and non-indigenous trout to placate the fly fishing industry in parts of the park that were fish-free. This is “compromise,” and it is successful only in encouraging the spread of additional invasive species, (like the mud snails and whirling disease,) on the one hand, and increasing resident invaders, (Lake Trout,) on the other.

bis-360-x-270.jpgThe NPS just released the Summer bison population estimate. The herd is within 200 individuals of the historic high of 4,900. Unlike Wind Cave National Park, Yellowstone continues to “compromise” its bison management plan to make sure that neither ranchers, tourists, bison advocates, nor news hounds are too badly offended. Keep it up and soon the park will be so deep in poo that someone will be offended – they will eventually eat themselves out of forage.

And, of course, we have finally heard from the New York Times on the “compromise” winter use plan. Again, by reducing snowmobiles, the park increases pollution by increasing diesel buses. The planners of Yellowstone seem not to have heard of the concept of constraint. Given the demand for winter visitation in Yellowstone, transportation must accommodate it. Certainly we shouldn’t limit visitation.

Given a totality: reduction of one part must necessarily result in the increase of another part. Given the totality of the ever increasing numbers of fishermen, there is a reduction in the opportunities for a solitary yus.JPGfishing experience. Given the totality of available bison habitat, the increase of bison results in the reduction of available forage. Given the totality of numbers of winter visitors, the reduction of clean snowmobiles results in the increase of dirty diesel buses, and the retention of obsolete and dirty Bombardier snowcoaches.

Since the planners in Yellowstone refuse to set limits on fishing, bison, and pollutants; all will increase as they play a numbers game. It’s not the number of snowmobiles that count – it’s the pollution that’s important. Bless the capitalists that are now propagating fleets of diesel buses to invade Yellowstone in winter, (just like Yosemite in Summer.)

fis-375-x-244.jpgBless the feather merchants that continue to encourage fishing for non-native species and the spread of mud snails and whirling disease. Bless the bison advocates that encourage the herd to proliferate and eat so much ground cover that the rivers are muddied.

Soon there will be confrontations between the fishing industry and the bison advocates. Soon there will be confrontations between diesel buses and bison. Soon there will be a park that is all things to all people and then – finally, there may be planning that is sensible and acknowledges the concept of constraint. Well probably not in my lifetime.


As a pertinent aside, check out the note about Lions For Lambs on You Tube.

Talk About Stupid


why-laugh.jpgI wonder how many people are going to get sucked into the pie-in-the-sky promises that are being spewed by Secretary Kempthorne and Director Bomar. You can read about the great things promised at National Parks Traveler (Here and Here and Here.) The rhetoric is splendid.

If there is anything that is apparent from the great and glorious promises being made, it is that these guys know nothing about that which they are talking. If they believe that the parks are going to be known as “America’s best classrooms” then they better start concentrating on the ecology and not the critters. Fat Chance Sister.

If they intend to restore native habitats they are going to have to remove all the fish above Firehole Falls and all but the grayling above Gibbon Falls, FATTER CHANCE! You can bet that their rhetoric is as hollow as the interior of a balloon. Neither Corporate America, nor the American Public, nor the NPS want to restore native habitats. What they all want is a picture postcard to retreat into: SCIENCE BE DAMNED!

I’ll bet a nickel that they will never address the problems caused by introduced trout in the Firehole River, the Gibbon River, and Slough Creek; including the destruction of native fauna that these fish cause. I’ll bet another nickel that they will find a project funded by “sportsmen & other interested parties” to enhance the fishing for introduced fish in many National Parks – especially Yellowstone. I’ll bet a third nickel that Dirk Kempthorne and Mary Bomar will avoid any effort to follow scientific inquiry. I’ll even bet a fourth nickel that a pile of supposedly concerned individuals and organizations will be seduced by the money. While I’m at it, I’ll make it an even quarter that there is no money or project that deals with global warming and the inevitable changes in the next century – ‘Centennial Initiative’ – BAH HUMBUG!

Go ahead Ms. Bomar, count the birds and thermophiles. Go ahead and remove the boardwalks that inhibit thermal feature discharge. Go ahead and follow science that says that the Firehole River would be better off without the introduced and invasive trout that sustain the multi million dollar tourist fishing industry. Go ahead and cull the bison herd to save the range. Go ahead and remove the dam that is preventing the calcification of Suzanne’s house. Go Ahead and re-align the road [again] so that the discharge from Beryl Spring is natural. Go ahead and restrict the geyser gazers from tromping around in restricted thermal areas. Go ahead and follow science to the detriment of visitation and tourist dollars – I dare you!

worse-than-snowmobile.jpgGo ahead and talk about snowmobiles and ignore the enormous and gaseous clouds of summertime diesel tour buses. Go ahead and ignore pollution in favor of winter whiners and increased visitation. Go ahead and celebrate the birthday of the NPS, maybe another 100 years and you’ll get it right.

Girlfriend, I promise that we are about to see the dashing of principles against the overwhelming flood of private money.

At least one thing is true: private money will line up to get a piece of this pie. Well, another thing is also true, park administrations across the land will eagerly line up, flat hat in hand, to get the money to increase visitation – no matter what they have to do. And, it’ll be worse by far than turning the parks over to DISNEY.

The Yellowstone Incubator


I knew it would come to this. I just didn’t want to say it for fear that I would be accused of being an alarmist – which I’m not.

ridum.jpgThe breeding factory that is Yellowstone has finally produced results that are making the cheerleaders and whiners very happy. Now that the park has produced too many bison for the forage, it is trucking them back into the park to destroy what little grass is left. These bison no more belong in Yellowstone than they do in your back yard – or do they? Bless the whiners and bless the cheerleaders.

feed-elk.jpgSoon the migratory Bison of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho will join the Welfare Elk of Jackson in a perfect charade of stupidity.

The cheerleaders have taken giant steps toward diluting wild genes in the Bison Herd – three cheers for them!

feedum.jpgSoon, too, I fear, the “managers” of Yellowstone will return to the mentality that established the Buffalo Ranch – feed ’em and herd ’em.

If the “managers” want ‘wild’ bison they should look to Wind Cave National Park for a sane model. The park was established to protect a cave, (Yellowstone for the geological curiosities,) then it was expanded to preserve and restore prairie, (Yellowstone devoted its prairies to the incubator,) then the ecosystem was evaluated and a few bison, (disease-free from Yellowstone,) were added.

Wind Cave National Park looks to the ecological intricacies required to manage a system. It culls Bison. It culls Prairie Dogs. It is conscious of the fact that visitors don’t always get to see the bison – so what? It is managing an ecosystem to the best of it’s ability – can Yellowstone and it’s incubator mentality say the same?

wolfpack.jpgThe USFWS recognized just how good an incubator Yellowstone was when they introduced wolves. They had an end game in mind and it is being played out now as surrounding human populations are beginning to take responsibility for these migratory animals.

Yellowstone has allowed the incubator to pump out elk, (laden with brucellosis,) and the surrounding humans love it – hunting dollars are big in Montana and Wyoming and Idaho – the cattlemen aren’t screaming about the elk; now are they? [But perhaps they should be!]

Grizzly bears have taken a bit longer, but the Craighead’s predictions of the 60’s and 70’s (Review,) have come true. They are finding habitat in Grand Teton Park, (and becoming habituated to vehicles and humans in the process.)

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition suggests a sensible plan to deal with migratory bison — don’t just pretend the bison are wild and keep pumping them out and trucking them back to eat the rapidly disappearing forage. Treat them like the critter we would like them to be. In their own words:


In Montana, big game species such as elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, and bears thrive because their habitat and conservation is supported by hunting. We can enjoy similar success with bison.

Boy oh boy, watch the whiners and cheerleaders scream about this.


And, while we’re at it, let’s remind the “managers” in Yellowstone that they are encouraging the destruction of streams by invasive and introduced fish such as brn.jpgThe German Brown Trout, The Loch Leven Brown Trout, The McCloud River Rainbow Trout, and other fish that the commercial interests want to remain in the rivers.

There is a catastrophe brewing in streams such as The Firehole, The Gibbon, The Madison, The Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek.

The Yellowstone River and Yellowstone Lake are already badly, if not fatally, degraded. There is not a fly shop within 500 miles of Yellowstone National Park that cares one whit about preservation and restoration of native species. They care about $$$$ and the fish incubator that the American Public maintains.

Did you know that Yellowstone National Park protects destructive, introduced, invasive species with it’s catch and release regulations on the Firehole River. How does that protect our natural heritage? It just protects and subsidizes the private fishing industry and a group of snobs that would rather catch foreign fish than American fish.

Do You Really think that it’s the fish or the fishing that the fishermen care about? Let’s see a meaningful alliance between Fly Fishermen, Suzanne Lewis, Mary Bomar and Dirk Kempthorne to; as Kempthorne said:

“By the Park Service’s 100th birthday, the President’s Centennial Initiative will have provided significant resources to restore and better protect the parks’ natural, cultural and historic resources.”

Let’s restore the Firehole River and it’s tributaries, above Firehole Falls, to the way they were before there was a National Park. We have the technology, it would cost less than a new visitor center, it would be “natural.”

Now there is a meaningful bit of work for the National Park Service. Far better than trucking bison back to a rapidly changing and degraded forage base. But the fly fishing cheerleaders and whiners are just as blind as the others.


pet-fish.jpgSisters, if the American public wants Tame Bison, Denuded Prairies, Sick Elk, Habituated Wolves and Grizzles, along with Artificial Streams and Foreign Pet Fish – so be it. Just don’t run to me when your children ask you what Yellowstone used to be like before global warming.

After all these are National Parks, and the cheerleaders and whiners are always talking about public opinion as if it were right.

It’s O.K. To Kill My Bison


bnc-02.jpgI just love the insidious tyranny of words used by the whiners and cheerleaders when it comes to the migratory animals that periodically reside in Yellowstone National Park.

When I read that Yellowstone’s bison are being slaughtered I wonder where this is taking place. When I read that one of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears was killed in Rigby, Idaho, I wonder when the park grew to such a large size. tractor.jpgWhen I read that Yellowstone’s wolves killed a domestic dog in Cameron, Montana, I wonder if I will have to pay an entrance fee to drive to Ennis.

Such balderdash is shameful. It’s understandable when whiners like bison advocates use the phrases – their job is inflammatory language. It’s unforgivable when scientists and journalists use the same phrasing. The wolves are not Yellowstone’s. The bison are not Yellowstone’s.

Our National Parks do not own the migratory animals that periodically visit them. Ducks, Geese, Trout, Elk, Wolves, Bison, etc. visit the parks and some are afforded sanctuary, protection, and solace. Some remain – some leave – some are caught and eaten.

head-on.jpgThe crux of the current situational argument about wildlife is “MANAGEMENT.” I enjoy seeing bison in Yellowstone. I enjoy seeing them on the road to Big Sky, Montana. I enjoy the elk and deer and cougars and ducks and geese on the same stretch of road. I would not enjoy bison in a head-on confrontation at 50 mph.

Wherever wildlife and people coexist, management of both must be considered. The current rants in the blogs and advocacy press are missing a significant and salient point. Bison management, in the recent past, has failed. Yellowstone National Park has failed to manage it’s elk and it’s bison, with a view to the very sustaining elements of these creatures, – the forage base

Of course the bison want out of the park! There is neither enough, nor the quality of forage to sustain the population that is artificially inflated by protection. The wolves have figured this out and are radiating outward from their original introduction sites. The elk have done it for years – much to the delight of hunters. Yellowstone should be pleased to see them leave.

In fact there are so many elk produced in the protected incubator of Yellowstone that some are on welfare in the Jackson, Wyoming area. Management by feeding is one way to insure piles of elk for the tourist industry. I doubt that it is good for the elk. This artificial crowding encourages the spread of disease and dependence on humans.

The bison need to be managed! Hazing the bison back into Yellowstone is a sham. If the bison want to leave, let them. AND, LET THEM BE MANAGED BY THE POPULATIONS THAT THEY VISIT. They do not belong to Yellowstone, nor do they belong to the whiners or the cheerleaders. The current interagency solution is a failure.

If Yellowstone National Park refuses to manage the byproducts of it’s incubation policy, the surrounding populations should accept the responsibility – after all, the federal bureaucracy is notorious for failure in most management endeavors.

What is the solution? It’s too simple to contemplate. Treat them in exactly the same way that other game animals are treated. Manage the population for sustainability and minimal destruction of private property.

Brucellosis could be a problem, but does not appear to be at the present. Elk have it and they are managed by areas surrounding Yellowstone. Bison management by Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming could be easily accomplished. Treat the bison as a threat to domestic livestock in the same way that wolves are treated. Remove them and the potential threat. Compensate ranchers just as is done with wolf kills. The wolves seem to be doing just fine with this solution. Some are killed – some are not. Let the bison cheerleaders put their money where there mouth is. Perhaps they could morph into the “Rocky Mountain Bison Foundation.”

The bison in this area are far from wild. A game animal approach would allow the poor critters to recapture their human avoidance behaviors. It would be better for them than their current wallflower status. Let them be wild and run from humans rather than pose for pictures. The pathetic bison that currently exist around here need a bit of pep.

cover.jpgFor those of you that truly believe that there is something unique about the bison of this region I suggest that you read NPS Scientific Monograph No. 1. This was a great start to a management strategy that was abandoned – sad, but true. Pay particular attention to chapter 3 and the history of the mingling of sub species and the current makeup of the herd. Also look at chapter 9 that began to deal with management. It might also be useful to visit chapter 5 and see the population characteristics. Remember that this monograph was written in 1973 – just as the population explosion was being anticipated. It’s a shame that whiners and cheerleaders and park managers refuse to read.

A series of bison reductions from 1961 through 1965 consistently removed a large number of breeding-age females. Records indicate that the reductions by field shooting of the mid-1950s also did this, as did some of the earlier removals at the Buffalo Ranch in Lamar (Table 9). Some population characteristics may change after a period without reductions. Data for all categories were not obtainable each year; hence, selected figures are used in some instances to suggest population conditions.

Yellowstone National Park has again failed to follow it’s own lead. Had the park administration finished what they started there would be fewer bison today, they would not have eaten the park to death, they would not be leaving the park in search of forage, and the “Brucellosis Scare” would be less. Of course the whiners and cheerleaders would then be screaming for more bison – pictures for the folks back home!

Yes, it’s O.K. to kill my bison. It should be O.K. to kill yours too. But the sad thing about it all, is that Yellowstone National Park has no friends. The native forage has no friends. The sustainable dynamic that is ecology has no friends. Only the bison and the bears and the trout and the other critters have friends. Well, ignorance is bliss.

Natural Agents Of Change


The very act of living, requires life to alter it’s environment. From the byproducts of eating and breathing to the castles we live in; all require and produce change in the environment. This is the natural order of life on the planet earth. Birds do it, bees do it, trees do it, beavers do it, we do it. It’s natural.

dam-on-thorofare-creek-nps.jpgThere is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing food into poo. There is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing O to CO or CO2 during breathing. This is ‘natural.’ There is nothing ‘destructive’ about a beaver building a dam across Thorofare Creek in Yellowstone.

The byproducts of the dam built by beaver-trees.jpgthe beaver include dead grass, dead trees, eroded trails & runs, trapped fish, eroded stream banks, siltation of the pond, etc. This is natural and it’s what beavers do. In fact, whatever a beaver does – and whatever alteration of the environment results – is natural.

oshaughnessy-dam-hetch-hetchy.jpgThe only difference between beaver dams and human dams is one of scale. Oh, and somewhere along the way a value judgment is made. Not the value judgment of “good vs. bad,” but the value judgment about “natural vs. unnatural.” Somewhere the perception develops that some natural behaviors are “bad” and others are “good.” And, in the case of humans “Natural” vs. “Unnatural.”

The National Park Service at one time believed that wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators were bad. These “bad” elements of the ‘natural environment’ were eliminated so that the “good” elements of the ‘natural environment’ could proliferate. The consequences of this action are with us today and we deplore the “unnatural” “imbalance” that the removal of predators left behind.

world-match.jpgSomehow, removal of predators (coyotes & muggers,) from Central Park, in New York City is viewed as good and natural. These kinds of value judgments creep into our vocabulary and cloud our thinking.

From Julian Steward to Noam Chomsky there has been a thread of thought that points out how the universe is shaped by our language and it’s depictions of the “natural world.”

Depending on your theology you believe that humans are “natural” or “unnatural.” And that theology structures your vocabulary, and that vocabulary is laden with value judgments about the alterations to the environment that humans make – from breathing to dam building to global warming.

There is no behavior or byproduct that can be attributed to humans that is not found in some other living organism. There is of course the attribute of scale, and the supposed attribute of “reason & intelligence.”

In a very real sense the current state of the world is 100% natural. The anthropogenic component of global warming is as natural as the rhythmic swing of temperature & weather has been in the past.

holy-cow.jpgHumans, (of course depending on your theology,) are just a recent development in the long history of environment-altering organisms.

Humans, (depending on your theology,) are just another part of the complex equation that determines the current and future state of this little rock. And humans, (depending on your theology,) will be long gone by the time this little rock becomes part of the sun. It’s just natural, (depending on your theology.)

It’s time to deal with the semantic component of our values. Are protected wolves “natural?” Are protected grizzly bears natural? Are we going to make anything “more natural” by delisting either? Of course not. We are natural and our actions are natural and the byproducts of our actions are natural. The question is — is it good?

Because, my theology demands that I make decisions based on a value structure that sees us all as natural: and all of our actions are natural as well. We can, however, change those actions in light of our definition of good or bad. Good for what? Bad for what? If it’s good for the earth, should we eliminate humans? If it’s good for humans does that mean we have to change the earth?

What’s good for Yellowstone? What’s good for visitors? Now there’s an interesting question framed over 90 years ago with the establishment of the National Park Service. And it’s a question of values not “natural vs. unnatural.” Or, is it?

The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

interiorbuilding.jpgThe arguments about what is, or is not, “natural” are spurious. It’s all natural – and in a most troubling sense it’s both good and bad. That’s just the way human constructs are. Just like the roads that “impair” the “natural” scenery so that we can enjoy the “natural” scenery.

We and our roads and our dams and our CO2 are natural. We should decide what to do to make them “good.” If we can.

Yellowstone: Obsolescense Personified


onesno.jpgI’m tired of this subject. I’m tired of hating snowmobiles and calling it a discussion of winter use and access in Yellowstone National Park. I’m tired of breast beating and post pissing in the name of righteous indignation. The charade stinks and is transparent to any person who honestly admits that more is at stake here than the stink of snowmobiles.

The NPS is busy raising fees around the nation. The outrage is palpable – except that no whine or wail is heard about the fact that it now costs $100/day/person to visit Old Faithful in winter. donot.jpg(How many members in your family?)

The NPS won this one without even going to bat. Americans have been duped into thinking that “motorized over-the -snow travel” is the sensible solution to winter use in Yellowstone. It’s not!

What it is, however, is a way for the NPS to limit access to Yellowstone. It limits access to those wealthy visitors who can afford $100/day, (or more,) to visit. This is capitalism in it’s finest form, and it’s your park service at it’s worst. Even the past directors have been duped – and they are proud of it.

finnfun.jpgSnowmobiles are a rotten way to hurt Yellowstone, and the NPS knows it. (An excellent review of the current situation: Boise Weekly, “Return Of The Bubbleheads.” It’s got a couple of real and journalistic inaccuracies but it’s a good review.)

What the NPS refuses to admit is that the current crop of “SNOWCOACHES,” (what an interesting amalgam they are,) are probably just as bad, if not worse. The disaster is, that this has not been addressed in any serious way. Nor, for that matter, has the de facto fee increase.

And don’t let the cheerleaders dupe you into thinking that they are talking about the park and it’s environment. They are just lobbying for less access, more wealth, fancy accommodations, and more dependence on commercial guides. This is not access – this is restriction.

If this is such a good approach in the winter – why not apply the same principles in the summer?


The NPS is busy talking about Best Available Technology (BAT) but not for itself and certainly not in reference to the visitor experience. How about a summer BAT ??

Let’s talk safety and visitor experience as well as pollution. The NPS was willing to mandate BAT for snowmobiles in an instantaneous fashion, but not for the outmoded Bombardier Snow Bus. Why? Because then they, (the NPS,) would have to comply with the rules instantly. (Did you know that the only concessionaire, beside the park, still running these dinosaurs is an ex-Yellowstone Park Ranger?)

The NPS has allowed themselves and their pet concessionaire a “phased approach” to comply with BAT. HOGWASH – the Bombardier Snow Bus fleet needs to be scrapped. The money sink that these single-purpose vehicles provide is never ending. They will never be BAT. Their nostalgic value is no match for the continuing costs that will be associated with them for the foreseeable future.haynes-2.jpg Might just as well demand a return to the Tally-Ho for the summer visitor. After all, methane is “natural” and the apples will add an interesting diversion to the monotonous sameness of bison poop. That’s environmental sensitivity – right? Maybe Toyota can retrofit an engine to these?

Nuts !!; just put a couple ‘Bombs’ in the transportation museum, drag them out for Ted Turner and Mike Findley, and let Mary Bowmar polish them – but don’t pretend that they are any kind of solution to winter access. Certainly they are not BAT.


If the NPS, the cheerleaders, and the philanthropies were serious about these relics and over-the-snow travel they would convince a major automaker to build them oneclean and safe and quiet and BAT! (****OOPS, they already did that; and it can be fitted with modern track systems – – so why stay wedded to an obsolete single purpose vehicle that is duplicated by a modern multi purpose vehicle?olyellers-at-olfaith.jpg) Who is the NPS catering to? [Don’t ask this question!]

If the past directors and the current cheerleaders were really serious about the environment they would look at the savings and environmental advantages associated with plowing the roads, (instead of grooming them for private interests only.)

The NPS needs to address the environmental sensitivities and economic factors that come with using vehicles as they are designed to be used.

They had better look at dumping a fleet of “never-to-be-BAT” vehicles and realize those savings. This action would address safe access and still allow the ‘swells’ to have a pet tour guide in a big bus or van.

Riding in a Bombardier Snow Bus is like sitting inside a giant tin drum – sideways. The sound level is obnoxious. The views are impaired, and craning your neck is not the best way to enjoy the views. Entrance and egress demand a dexterity that only a Canadian Army Trooper would tolerate – of course that’s who they were designed for. These relics of WW II were designed to cram a fighting unit into a small space – not for leisurely touring of Yellowstone.

The heater is so inefficient that blankets are needed and carried by the drivers. This is probably a great bit of nostalgia, and an intriguing history lesson – but not a pleasant ride in the park. Of course, marketing and sales are king in this arena. The drivers call it “The Real Yellowstone Experience” – DUPED AGAIN. Thank you, NPS.

Do the drivers of these things really offer the passengers ear plugs? (Click HERE for an honest account of the “Real Experience.”)


Here are some hard questions regarding the Bombardier Snow Bus. Questions that the planners have avoided in the hopes that the cheerleaders and the public will ignore these obsolete, single-purpose vehicles:

nono.jpg1] Are these “BOMBS” as safe as converted vans and buses?
2] Do they have seat belts?
3] Are their breaking systems BAT? Windshield wipers? Windshield washers? Defoggers? Mirrors and signal lamps? Headlights? Track system? Heaters?
4] Is entrance and egress as safe in a “Bomb” as it is in the conversions? In emergency situations? Why is there a seat in the doorway? (I know the answer to this one, an additional $100 – safety be damned.)
5] Is the auditory health of visitors considered in BAT? Really, where?
6] Is there adequate, safe, and comfortable storage for all camera gear, tripods, lunch bags, crutches, walking sticks, backpacks, child-seats, luggage, and a stroller for the screaming 2-year-old? By the way is there any way to put a child seat in the things? Does the NPS care? Are the seats DOT approved? Should they be?
7] Are they accessible? Is this a Federal requirement for Yellowstone Concessionaires?
8] If these things are so good, why isn’t the NPS busy buying up a bunch of them? When was the last time they bought one for the fleet? I know where they could have gotten one for only $10,000.
9] Will the engine conversions of today still be BAT in 5 years? 10 years? Will they need more new engines? How often? Will the NPS forgive it’s own fleet?

Shame on them; and the rangers and employees that still ride 2 cycle snowmobiles! What will all this cost the taxpayer in the out years? Is this sensible policy? Is this what planners do? Is this what cheerleaders want?

I think it’s time to BAN THE BOMB!


The consequences of pretending to talk about winter access while really following a “limit public access agenda” are far reaching and do not bring about an uplifting visitor experience.

The NPS has already shown that they don’t care about pollution by preferring an alternative that allows too many snowmobiles into Yellowstone. They have also shown they don’t care by allowing one of their pet concessionaires to use diesel engines for winter access – just like the stench of summer. Is this BAT? Who defines & adjusts BAT?? Has the public ever had a chance to comment on BAT??

They have shown that they don’t care about individualized experiences by demanding that all visitors in motor coaches and snowmobiles have ‘guides.’ They have shown that they don’t care about any kind of individualized experiences – except for skiers who don’t need guides, and snowshoe travelers who don’t go too far. Skiers are saints and have never violated the park in any way; therefore there is no need to transfer the law enforcement function of the NPS to ski guides. Really?

These consequences, are going to compound themselves in the future. Here’s a few the NPS has yet to address:

1] If it’s true that bison need to leave the park to wander, why are plowed roads a problem? Do we trap the bison in the park, or do we let them roam? Elk? Wolves? Is it Yellowstone, or is it pollution, or is it snowmobiles, or is it access, or is it a winter use plan, we’re talking about?

2] Global warming is real, and even if we corrected 100% of the anthropogenic component today, the trend will continue for at least 100 years – very probably much more. Is this accounted for in the winter use plan? How? What reasons will the NPS use for limiting visitor access in 10 years? Twenty years from now? Ahhh, I get it, perpetual employment for planners.

bombie.jpg3] Is the NPS catering to the short term concerns of the wealthy and their pet concessionaires to the detriment of the long term health of Yellowstone?

4] Is the current winter use plan a real plan, or a justification for nostalgic exploitation of Yellowstone by those that can afford $100/day? This cost of visiting the park will greatly increase as capitalists discover that they have the park held hostage; and, that only the wealthy are visiting. Of course inflation, NPS policy, and rising fuel prices will aid this.

5] Are the planners, the public, and the cheerleaders so blinded by a “snowmobile crisis” that they have ignored the real problems of the future? For instance; are Americans adjusting to increased fuel prices apace with the supposed, (summer & winter,) future visitation? Oh, I get it, you mean that the roads will need to be widened for the wealthy and their land yachts, and the poor in diesel buses – I really do get it .

doozie.jpgWell, like I said, I’m tired of the discussion. The NPS isn’t listening, the cheerleaders aren’t listening, and certainly the wealthy never listen.

They collect Duesenbergs and Bombardiers & demand that Yellowstone build buildings and accommodations that the NPS can’t afford to maintain. They demand catered wilderness in the nostalgia of obsolete transportation. They demand that you and I stay out of their park.

I hope that the park can afford this consequence. Really, I do. I hope that someday I will be rich enough to enjoy Yellowstone in the winter – – Really!

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

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