Eternal: Yellowstone National Park Six Years Later
BOZEMAN, MONTANA. September 15,
1995. Yellowstone Park officials and service operators are
happy again. After a couple of shaky years, visitors are
returning to the park in record numbers, many of them curious
to see the rebirth of this once-ravaged park. "I always
had hope," one hotel owner in West Yellowstone told
me. "Geysers aren't the only thing springing up in
this part of the world."
Speaking of which, the geysers and other
geothermal features of the park were scarcely affected by
the fires. Old Faithful continues to gush on a regular schedule.
Chamber music is still played in Lake Yellowstone Hotel's
Sun Room, fishermen still catch and release trout in the
rivers, bears still attract hordes of amateur photographers,
and the Yellowstone River Canyon still shines like gold
in the sunlight. Only when you drive past, or hike into,
stretches of blackened stumps — the remains of lodgepole
pines — do you remember that almost half the park burned
And, if you look more closely at these
stretches, you see tens of thousands of young lodgepoles
growing up beside the dead ones. Biologists estimate that
it will take about half a century for the pines to reach
full height and close the forest canopy, returning the park's
forests to the conditions found prior to the fires. Areas
where erosion is severe or where landslides occurred will
take longer to recover, but within a century, all this forest
will once again look like telephone poles topped with Christmas
trees. The National Forestry Service continues to think
about and adjust the policies which it uses to regulate
fires. Now, three strategies are constantly being considered
depending upon local fire conditions: suppression, let it
burn, and intentional burning. Each strategy has its good
and bad points, and considering the awesome force of fire,
each can lead to devastation and tragedy and new growth.
Life goes on.
- According to biologists, how long will it take for the
Yellowstone tree cover to return to what it was before
- Has life at Yellowstone returned to “normal”. If yes, how? If no, why not?
- What three strategies for fire management are now being used at Yellowstone?