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The US National Park Service manages more than 400 national parks in the US. It also works with local stakeholders to revitalize the environment, preserve history, heritage, and recreational facilities. However, some of these national parks have faced major challenges related to overuse, human-wildlife conflicts, insufficient funding, climate change, pollution, concession systems, mining activities, fire, and illegal activities, among others.
Moreover, popular parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone receive huge numbers of visitors every year, which overwhelm the available resources. Yellowstone National Park strives to protect natural and cultural resources and beautiful scenery within the park. Fishing is one major attraction in the park for many visitors, and it has a rich history. Consequently, fishing has continued to complement and promote the preservation of natural and native species. However, the introduction of some species in the park altered the natural ecosystem. This proposal explores challenges associated with destructive activities of some wildlife, humans, and fire in the national park. It also proposes possible solutions and a budget for the problems.
Problems at the park
Yellowstone National Park boasts of diverse ecology and high economic impacts in the city. It has significant cutthroat trout fisheries in the US. However, over the years, critical threats to the native trout have grown significantly. The trend has permanently changed the park, and its sustainability and future growth have remained unknown. Studies helped the park management team to understand that any negative impacts on the native trout number could have profound long-term impacts throughout the Yellowstone ecosystem. Trout are the main sources of energy for several birds and other animals and great recreational activity for visitors (Yellowstone National Park 1).
At some point, a section of the Yellowstone water did not have fish. Consequently, park managers embarked on a massive restocking of the park with exotic fish, which had deep ecological outcomes. One major problem that occurred was the displacement of other native species of fish, such as Arctic grayling and west slope cutthroat trout. The exotic species now predate on the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. At the same time, policies on the management of the park have also shifted with ecological changes. For instance, the once-popular fishing for subsistence use and harvesting have declined to pave the way for the maintenance of the natural ecosystem and restoration of the previous park’s ecosystem. Exotic species of lake trout feed on cutthroat at a high rate. This implies that uncontrolled numbers of lake trout could decimate the native cutthroat trout and threaten other predators, which originally depended on Yellowstone cutthroat species for survival.
For several years, the fire has played a fundamental role in shaping the ecosystem of the Great Yellowstone. Native plants are able to evolve and thrive after the fire. Park managers understand the importance of fires in influencing nutrients and plant species.
However, fire remains one multifaceted factor for the park because of its both dangerous and fascinating impacts. Yellowstone Park officials continue to study fires and manage them carefully in order to understand their consequences and patterns. Most of the fires at the park result from lightning activities, although some occur because of arson. Historically, park managers and visitors have looked at fires negatively. However, recent studies have shown that fires have tremendous benefits for the ecosystem.
Apart from the benefits of fires to the Yellowstone National Park, park managers face some major challenges with fires. For instance, the park should protect its developed facilities and infrastructures, human life, and some species. However, the challenge has been balancing between protecting these investments, human life, and wildlife and allowing the fire to burn naturally in the park.
Solutions for the fire, trout, and human problems
A potential conflict of interest exists as park officials strive to protect and preserve the purity of the park and offer recreational activities for visitors. As a result, there is a clear need to balance between the two. The park management efforts and resources must preserve indigenous species and promote responsible fishing at the same time. A catch-and-release program can regulate fisheries within the park and control the number of human activities. There should also be a new solution or program, which aims to control the number of exotic trout because of their destructive nature to native cutthroat trout. Anglers may be allowed to catch and keep exotic cutthroat trout as an attempt to preserve the natural ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park. Therefore, Yellowstone National Park should encourage programs that preserve the indigenous cutthroat trout, control the number of exotic trout, and conduct further studies and monitoring activities to control any possible damages.
Further research and studies are critical for the survival of the park. Park officials should evaluate the impact of human activities and visits, as well as exotic cutthroat trout. Based on outcomes, the park should build a data center for references and enlarge its research department to improve science capabilities. It should encourage public inputs and scientific symposiums in different subjects on a monthly basis. Such programs should be open to the public.
Fighting fires is an expensive and dangerous undertaking. Hence, it requires interagency relations and efforts in order to control random wildfires that destroy developed areas. The park should invest in skilled professionals and gadgets that can be effective in controlling wildfires in extreme weather conditions, especially during summer.
Further studies in fire management are necessary to allow park officials to understand the behaviors of fires. This may happen when such officials understand the type of vegetation under fire and fuel moisture levels. However, understanding and predicting fires under extremely dry conditions could be difficult as data from 1988 to 2000s indicate (National Park Service 154). Studies have shown that forests experiencing stand-replacing fires could affect fire behavior for up to 200 years in Yellowstone” (National Park Service 154). That is, when a new fire starts in a previously burned area, its rapid spread and strength slow down. Such knowledge about fire behaviors could help park officials to predict future fires. Consequently, park officials could use maps of past stand-replacing fires alongside current fires to forecast the spread, intensity, and behaviors of fires (Turner, Romme and Tinker 351).
Yellowstone National Park should design a fire management program, which aims to protect human life, developed areas, natural resources, wildlife, and cultural resources, among others. At the same time, park officials must understand that fires are natural processes within the park, which should burn where possible. Park officials could adopt different strategies from scientific studies to understand fires in natural settings. Fire tools like mechanical thinning, controlled fire and wildfire usages could be effective for training.
While Yellowstone National Park experiences several challenges, fire and impacts of exotic cutthroat trout have significantly affected the ecosystem. Hence, the stakes are high, which demands high standards of management and funding. Since wildfires are random and uncertain impacts of trout cannot be determined easily, they have strained the park’s available resources. Consequently, funding and further studies and research would help the park to manage and preserve its resources. Scientists could monitor the impacts of major fires on the park and provide their recommendations. It would also be imperative for the park to work with other agencies, researchers, and other institutions to develop broad topics for studies. Insights from such studies will help the park to enhance its management strategies.
Overall, state and federal governments, including other interested stakeholders, must continue to work together in order to reduce levels of negative impacts on the park and its resources.
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|Activity||Reason for the activity||Time||Annual Budget|
|Further research and studies on predicting fires and fire behaviors||Deep insights in fire and fire patterns could help the park to understand and predict future fires |
Studying previous data on fires could act as a starting point for researchers
|From March 2014 |
An ongoing study
|Firefighting equipment and personnel||Unpredicted wildfires, especially during summer require highly qualified professionals and modern equipment |
Firefighters also need further training
|March – September 2014||$240 million|
|Research and studies on trout, human activities, and their impacts on the ecosystem of the park||The park can only rely on studies, which provide insights on ongoing activities due to interaction among humans, exotic trout, and indigenous trout |
Such studies would result in better decision-making on the preservation of the ecosystem
|From March 2014 |
|Total||Costs of studies and fighting fires annually||$480 million|
National Park Service. Yellowstone Resources and Issues Handbook. 2013. Web.
Turner, Monica, William H. Romme, and Daniel Tinker. “Surprises and Lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone Fires.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1.7 (2003): 351-358. Web.
Yellowstone National Park. Current Issues Facing Fisheries of Yellowstone. 2014. Web.