It’s a road map to where those running Yellowstone National Park set priorities for this year and beyond, so it’s worth reading, as the Yellowstone 2023 State of the Park report was released today.
The State of the Park reports tend to be ambitious in scale, a wish list of sorts. But the priorities do change over time, as Yellowstone management transitions and external factor shape how Yellowstone is perceived outside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“More than ever, we recognize the outstanding value of the team here in Yellowstone, the support we’ve received from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and other partners who have helped us achieve success in so many areas,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly via press release. “Despite the tremendous number of challenges we have faced over the past several years, we continue to make substantial progress in many areas important to the future of Yellowstone.”
The report highlights the significant response and recovery efforts during the 2022 historic flood event, efforts to commemorate the park’s 150th anniversary, and a wide range of actions to improve workforce conditions, strengthen the Yellowstone ecosystem, improve visitor experiences, invest in aging infrastructure, and build coalitions and partnerships. It is interesting to see how this report is a mix of large-scale goals and smaller-scale issues of little interest outside the Park boundaries. We would encourage to read the full report here, but to whet your appetite we’ve culled some highlights here:
Support the Yellowstone team first
Improve employee housing, work conditions, health and wellness, team engagement, interdivisional respect and collaboration, accountability, professional development, hiring processes, internal communications.
Advance and sustain the Yellowstone ecosystem
Understand and respond more effectively to climate change impacts; advance and sustain wildlife management and large landscape conservation efforts, identify new cooperative conservation opportunities with states and partners (i.e., wildlife corridors); continue building scientific capacity to improve decision making within the ecosystem; improve environmental sustainability.
Protect, preserve, and improve cultural resources
Understand and respond to environmental changes affecting cultural resources, build effective climate adaptation strategies and response planning, improve conditions of historic structures, protect archeological sites, collections, and archives; promote Tribal heritage and collaboration.
Understand and respond to increased visitor use
Develop effective visitor use strategy that focuses on protecting park resources, staffing/infrastructure, improving visitor enjoyment/recreation opportunities, and collaborating with gateway communities.
Connect people to Yellowstone
Build world-class interpretive and educational experiences/programs using innovative technology, youth and community outreach, and citizen services.
Improve visitor services and amenities
Provide exceptional facilities and amenities relating to accessibility, connectivity, recreational opportunities, and sustainable practices.
Improve and maintain condition of transportation-related infrastructure
Improve condition of park bridges, roads, parking lots, and other transportation priorities.
Become a higher-performing Yellowstone team
Build relationships within/across division, district, and programmatic boundaries; Seek new ways of collaboration and partnership for the benefit of One Yellowstone; Actively communicate across all park and NPS levels.
These are all worthy goals, to be sure, and we’ll be revisiting them in the course of coming months.