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Protecting Yellowstone

Science and the Politics of National Park Management

Michael J. Yochim

Publication Year: 2013

Yellowstone National Park looks like a pristine western landscape populated by its wild inhabitants: bison, grizzly bears, and wolves. But the bison do not always range freely, snowmobile noise intrudes upon the park’s profound winter silence, and some tourist villages are located in prime grizzly bear habitat. Despite these problems, the National Park Service has succeeded in reintroducing wolves, allowing wildfires to play their natural role in park forests, and prohibiting a gold mine that would be present in other more typical western landscapes.

Each of these issues—bison, snowmobiles, grizzly bears, wolves, fires, and the New World Mine—was the center of a recent policy-making controversy involving federal politicians, robust debate with interested stakeholders, and discussions about the relevant science. Yet, the outcomes of the controversies varied considerably, depending on politics, science, how well park managers allied themselves with external interests, and public thinking about the effects of park proposals on their access and economies. Michael Yochim examines the primary influences upon contemporary national park policy making and considers how those influences shaped or constrained the final policy. In addition, Yochim considers how park managers may best work within the contemporary policy-making context to preserve national parks.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii-iii


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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Shortly after publishing my first book Yellowstone and the Snowmobile, I left Yellowstone National Park to go to the other “Big-Y” park, Yosemite, where I have continued to work. The change in location has brought me new career possibilities, new wild places to explore, and new friendships. Like any change, though, this one came with upheavals, from ...

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pp. 1-12

While traveling to Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, the visitor today passes by many of the great sights of the American West. Snow-covered mountains and sparkling waterfalls abound in all directions. The serene beauty of Yellowstone Lake and Hayden Valley invite a peaceful calm not ordinarily enjoyed by most Americans. Making ...

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1: Fishing Bridge and the Son of Cody

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pp. 13-44

In summer 1986, Yellowstone National Park managers were confronted with something more commonly found in the country’s large cities: a protest. Organized by the radical environmental group Earth First!, the protest was held on Fishing Bridge, a historic bridge at the mouth of...

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2: Scientists and a “Barbeeque”

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pp. 45-79

In 1988, the nation watched as Yellowstone went up in smoke—at least that’s the image many Americans had, based on statements like those above from politicians, often repeated in the press.1 Starting in June, ignited by lightning strikes and some by the actions of people, these ...

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3: More Precious than Gold

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pp. 80-119

Vacationing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for two weeks in August 1995, President Bill Clinton took a day to travel to Yellowstone National Park with his family. To promote his environmental image, Clinton gave a speech at Old Faithful Geyser supporting protection “of our land,...

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4: Wolves, Bison, and Snowmobiles

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pp. 120-168

During the contemporary policy-making era in Yellowstone, in addition to Fishing Bridge Village, the fire policy review, and the New World Mine, the park’s managers were dealing with three other major controversies: whether to return gray wolves to Yellowstone, whether visitors...

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Conclusion: Science and Politics

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pp. 169-184

Six policy-making controversies and six policy-making determinants: a coincidence in number, but not a coincidence in outcome. As the discussion in this book has revealed, national park policy-making outcomes are largely determined by National Park Service (NPS) leaders’...


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pp. 185-242


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pp. 243-254


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pp. 255-264

Back Cover

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pp. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780826353047
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826353030

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 827972090
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Protecting Yellowstone

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Yellowstone National Park -- Management.
  • Wildlife management -- Yellowstone National Park.
  • Environmental protection -- Yellowstone National Park.
  • Environmental policy -- Yellowstone National Park.
  • Yellowstone National Park (Agency : U.S.).
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