There was record snowfall on the ground in Canyon Village, Yellowstone National Park when I arrived the 28th of March this year.
"Maybe falling in love, the piercing knowledge that we ourselfs will someday die, and the love of snow are in reality not some sudden events: maybe they never completely vanish, either."
Peter Hoeg, Smilla's Sense of Snow
- Claude Monet
Flowered white obliterate...
Matsuo Basho, Japanese Haiku
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass.
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Wallace Stevens, " The Snow Man."
What a task
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
Mary Oliver, "Snow Geese"
"Our state tourism bureaus spend millions, using misleading pictures, touting summer vacations in Yellowstone without reflecting on the reality that no more promotion is needed. Roads already are filled with jarring congestion that is the opposite of the idyll they are selling."
Todd Wilkinson, “This is Our Place to Celebrate the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem," Mountain Journal, April 24th, 2018.
What I have witnessed in Canyon Village in Yellowstone Park while working as assistant manager of maintenance last season and for the early record-breaking snow-and-ice (" Snow Beauty ”) opening of this season is that the extended openings and late closings for the Park are adding to the damage caused by “the jarring congestion” and misleading marketing that Wilkinson documents. They’re adding to the (perhaps irreversible?) toll on the environment of this National Park.
The animals in the park, the bison (“culled,” more aptly “slaughtered” to reduce the size of the herd), the fish (killed by the poisoning of waterways said to be done to restock “natives”), the bear (opening hunting of the Grizzlies just outside the boundaries of the Park), the elk and moose, the Park’s flora and fauna ecosystems are already in jeopardy of being compromised. The reduced oversight and perhaps misguided policies of the National Park Service are not entirely to blame. The profit-motives, short-term planning, actions and inactions of the concession companies, Xanterra (my former employer) and Delaware North, should be held responsible for adding to the degradation of the Park.
Xanterra’s mission statement claims to provide "Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint." I did not see a softer footprint. It appeared to me that their real mission is to continue to open earlier and close later to bring as many people into the park as they can. It’s a “Hard Footprint” that shows little or no regard for the pressure on the environment, for the maintenance of the infrastructure, the housing and guest buildings, the historic architecture in the Park.
I am not unrealistic that the National Park Service (NPS) needs to have partners that manage concessions, such as Delaware North and Xanterra, which manage lodges, stores, restaurants and activities for guests. But it comes at a cost to the beautiful park we all love when the companies encourage the entrance of four and a half million people this year and five million next year. The Park’s bison, moose, elk, and bear in the Park are counted in the hundreds.
“As we look into the future, we must have the magnanimity to understand that recreation is the reward for conservation and not the other way around.”
Michael Dax, "Weakening Wilderness Act is Antithetical to Principle of Landmark Law," Mountain Journal, April 10, 2018.
Thank you, Gaysie