State of the Park report monitors Yellowstone’s ‘vital signs’

Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service’s Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network have released The State of Yellowstone Vital Signs and Select Park Resources, 2017.

Wildfire, like the Antelope Fire in 2010, is always a concern in Yellowstone. (J. Page, NPS)

The 60-page report reads like a health report for the nation’s oldest park. Data has been collected, sifted, and analyzed against historic highs and lows—indicating positive and negative trends in Yellowstone.

No rock was left unturned, no paw print untracked. The comprehensive report looks at typical park assets from birds and bees to bear, bison, beaver, and big horn sheep. And that’s just the B’s.

Annual precipitation at Mammoth Hot Springs from 1941-2016. The trend is decidedly a drier park in recent decades.

The State of the Park Vital Sign report also dives deep on Ecosystem Drivers like climate and wildfire; Environmental Quality Assessment including air, water, and natural soundscapes; and a variety of plant resources.

Even stressors (aquatic invasive species, nonnative mountain goats, visitor impact), cultural and archeological sites and resources, and museum holdings are taken into account.

While visitors to Yellowstone typically experience clear skies with no haze, the potential increase in fire frequency and severity poses an ongoing concern. (N. Herbert, NPS)

Park and network staff compiled the report with input from park researchers.

“We are pleased to release this report to inform park staff and the public about the status and trends of our resources, and to provide updates on monitoring activities and management actions related to those resources,” said Yellowstone Center for Resources Chief Jennifer Carpenter.

Greater Yellowstone Network Program Manager Kristin Legg added, “This report integrates up-to-date information on park resources from many sources, including the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring program. Partnerships within the parks and with collaborators are critical to ensuring long-term conservation of America’s national treasures.”

Wildlife still finds Yellowstone a safe sanctuary. There are 50 known extant and historical bald eagle territories in YNP, about one-half of which are occupied by a mated pair each year. (J. Peaco, NPS)

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