Place As Text: Livingston, Montana

Our visit to Livingston began at around noon in The Sacajawea Park. It was a dreary, overcast day and the temperature was in the low forties. Other than three or four children at a far away playground, we were the parks only visitors. We picnicked around a run down picnic table next to some decently well-kept tennis courts. We noticed that a lot of the playground equipment was outdated and fairly spread apart, like some pieces had been damaged and never replaced. 

Sacajawea Park

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After a quick lunch, we hopped in our car and parked on a side street off the edge of the town, and began walking towards S. Main St. During a quick stroll around town, we noticed that bars, bakeries & restaurants and art galleries make up a good amount of businesses. This suggests that the town is a place of recreation and leisure for the people who enjoy it. We then walked into a clothing boutique called “High Trash”. The boutique was trendy and had a mid-century modern feel. There were clothes, shoes and accessories scattered throughout the store. We talked to the owner, her name was Bethany and she and her husband just opened the store on May 13th. They have two kids, a daughter who’s 3 and an infant son who was about 18 months. They were originally from Bozeman but moved to Livingston because the houses were bigger and cheaper. She liked that the town of Livingston is getting younger and they have a lot of art galleries, coffee shops, and clothing stores. We asked her why the name “White Trash” because we thought it was kind of bizarre, and she said “it is the clothing style that my friends and I would wear while out partying in college” so they brought the high class and white trash theme to the young girls in Livingston. In the back, the work of a local artist was featured, her name is Tori Olsen. They are hoping to have art shows and walks in the back of the shop during the summer. 

Livingston , Montana

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After leaving “High Trash” we went to a thrift store called “Curated Closet”. The shop owner greeted us warmly, he appeared to be in his twenties and wore round plastic frames and a plaid shirt. The store contained an variety of clothes and accessories from various decades. After leaving both stores, we noted that there were only one or two customers in each. We then went to Livingston Center for Arts and Culture and we were greeted by a lady in the front of the and her dog, a sweet-tempered border collie she had rescued. After leaving the gallery, we met the rest of our group at a trendy bakery. Some of our group enjoyed coffee and pastries while we watched locals dart in and out. 

Clothing stores that we passed

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Map of Livingston

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Place As Text: Gardiner, Montana

This morning we began our journey around Gardiner at 8:30am. It was partially cloudy and a chilly 40 degrees as we walked across the bridge over Yellowstone River. We ventured up Second St. and noticed some souvenir shops and tourist attractions on our left and some restaurants on our right. The shops did not have much of the “Old West” feel, yet were still cozy and quaint. We then turned right onto Park St. and walked by a few shops. We noticed businesses around here open earlier than in Jackson Hole, and they do not all necessarily cater to tourists. We stopped in to Elk Inc. shop and spoke with Don, the shop owner. He is a native of Montana and has been in Gardiner since 1965. After receiving a degree in business he had the opportunity to buy this property to begin his own economic venture His shop is small and mainly sells tourist items and outdoor gear. Don also told us that he is a Game Call manufacturer and owns several patents. They sell worldwide and are world champions for their Elk game call, which he demonstrated to us.  They also sell calls for wolves and other animals. When we asked Don about the town he told us, “People really need to come in here to see it” because Gardiner is more of a town that people pass through to get to the park. He also stated, “If we ever get a streetlight I would be pulling out”. We talked about the fire in 2008 that burned on the ridge above Gardiner. He told us everyone had to evacuate because it was covered in smoke and that you couldn’t see across the street because it was so heavy.

Gardiner, Montana

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Map of Gardiner

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After leaving his shop we went to a trendy outdoor clothing store and talked to an 18 year old from Mammoth. She has lived here her whole life and told us that they recently renovated the roads in the town. She is a huge wolf person and believes that there should be a balance in the ecosystem because the animals rely on each other for survival. She said “Don’t touch the wildlife because they depend on each other, and we cant mess with the ecosystem”. She told us that the elk were overpopulated so when the wolves were reintroduced in 1995 it helped with the population. We also asked her about her opinion of the wildfires, she said that wildfires happen and to let them just burn. She said that they shouldn’t be stopped unless they are going to harm someone.

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We then decided to grab some food in Rosie’s Bistro. Since we were grabbing a quick bite we decided to sit at the bar. The restaurant was very small, like most that we had noticed. It was constructed entirely of wood, and gave us the cottage feel. While eating and working, we struck up a conversation with some park employees beside us. They were a young couple, appearing to be in their late 20’s. Than man said he was a sous chef at Old Faithful Resort and the woman wad a bar tender. Decked out in expensive outdoor gear, they asked us about where we were from and what we were doing in Gardiner. We discussed the recklessness of tourists and their interactions with wildlife and natural sites. They agreed with us that people will do anything for a photo, no matter how dangerous or disrespectful to environment and the wildlife.

Place As Text: Jackson, Wyoming

We began our place as text journey at approximately 9 am walking along W. Pearl Street beside the Elk Country Inn. The morning sun was high in the sky and the fifty-degree weather was tolerable with light jackets. We then turned onto N. Jackson Street. On the left side there was not much to see. There were a few quaint motels and lodges in front of a small mountain. The road we were on was very flat. On the right they had a small movie theatre on one corner, then a few shops, and a small park on the next block. These business were more run down than the ones we saw closer to the town’s center, and they were not as log-cabin styled as the rest of the town. They were more on the outskirts so less well kept and popular. The park was out of the way and isolated from most business, but was very small. There were a few park benches along with a small play set, but no one was out on the park yet. As we turned on to W. Gill St. we saw a few small business and an area under construction. As we continued towards the town center, the area became more populated with business, and business’ were closer together or joined. We then turned onto Glenwood St. Since we were out so early, very few businesses were open, so we had very few opportunities for interviews of shop owners, or even customers out and about. There were not many people walking the streets besides a few people with their dogs and the odd tourists. We noticed a lot of people driving through town with no passengers in their vehicles, we suspected they were commuting to work.

Walking through Jackson

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The path we took for our Place as Text exploration

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We stopped in one of the few shops open at 9am,The West Lives On, an art gallery along the road. One of the owners, Terry Ray, spoke to us about his experience in Jackson Hole for the last twenty-two years. He told us that his shop featured the works of over 100 artists.  As we walked around his shop, we noted that none of the art pieces were less than 1,000 dollars, the most expensive being a bald eagle sculpture at a whopping $45,000.  The pieces featured scenes of the “Wild West”, scantily clad women in western gear and American memorabilia. According to Terry, 60% of his art is shipped to customers and 40% is taken home from the shop. The busy summer seasons include July, August and September, but he also stated there is an influx of tourists in the winter months of January, February, and March. Of his experience living in Jackson, he told us that it is a beautiful area and that the people are great. He mentioned “If people don’t fit in, they don’t last long”. He also noted that since moving to Jackson 22 years ago, he has noticed a shift in the town from mostly conservative Republican to Democratic liberal.

Terry Ray has owned West Lives on Gallery for 19 years.

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We then decided to sit in a gelato/coffee shop right next door to reflect on our findings. The shop, CocoLove, is known for it’s gelato and pastries because they were made famous by pastry chef Oscar Ortega. The cafe was quaint and quiet and an easy place to sit down with a cup of coffee and read the paper. We wanted to interview the lady who was working but it was fairly busy and she was the only one working, but we were able to observe her. She was friendly and helpful to anyone who had a question.While there, we saw a family of five visiting from Australia. They had a little girl and she was so excited to be in a new place that was different from home. After they were finished with their pastries and coffee, they left to go out on an adventure.

Upon leaving and walking back to The Elk, we stumbled upon a pet boutique. We noticed how much people value their pets and how many were out with their owners throughout town. While we were in CocoLove, a man and his dog happened to walk in. The dog was not leashed, and very well trained to stay with his owner.

Sitting at the base of surrounding mountains, we believe the town has a very homey, rustic feel. The log-cabin, stone buildings inspire a vacation feel for many of the tourists and locals. It is obvious that many of these buildings are recreations of the typical structure one would find in the “Old West”. After interacting with only a few members of the community, we believe that the aesthetic of the town is not necessarily representative of the people living within it.  

About Us: Meet Our Pack

Hello! I am Louise, I am 21 years old and I am from Chantilly, Virginia. I’m a Psychology major and I am double minoring in Biology and NeuroStudies. I signed up for this trip because everyone I had talked to that has been LOVED it and told me every minute is worth it. I am excited to travel out west because I haven’t traveled in that direction before and I am excited to learn more about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Hi there! My name is Meg and I am from southwest Virginia. I am also a rising Junior in the Nursing program. If I am being completely honest, I initially signed up for this course as a means of convenience. I needed to fulfill a general education goal and take an honors course before graduating. The YNP program was a way to knock out two birds with one stone so to speak. However, my initial motivation for taking the course completely changed after only the first pre-departure session. After learning the goals of the course and seeing the passion and excitement of the faculty, I became increasingly enthusiastic for the trip. I am so thankful and excited for this educational opportunity and I cannot wait to share it with my peers, the faculty, my family, the Longwood community and the general public!

I’m Lizzie! I’m from Richmond, Virginia. I am a rising senior in the Education program, and hope to work within first through third grade. I chose to take this course simply because I have never been out west. I found the idea of submerging myself in a class, out of the classroom and in an entirely new setting both exciting and useful for myself as a future teacher. I want to learn how to incorporate the outdoors in the confines of a classroom. I am extremely excited for our journey and to see where it takes us all!

Our pack is excited to explore multiple issues facing resource management with a focus on Wildfires. This blog will be our platform on which we share our research and experiences obtained through our involvement within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Thanks for viewing our blog and we encourage you to check out those belonging to our peers for a more in depth look into other resource issues.

Forest Fires: Help or Harm?

Is it better to contain forest fires through man-made resources and human intervention, or allow nature to run its course on its own? #stopdropandroll

– To join the discussion, include #stopdropandroll in all your fire-management related posts!

Learn More About Fire-Management

Wildfires can be beneficial to the ecosystem and the environment, but it also can have negative effects including the safety of visitors, economic decline, and problems with policy. It is important to keep humans safe when they are in the park but it is also important to preserve the natural process that fires bring to the environment. For 14,000 years, fires have shaped the landscape of Yellowstone National Park. Different plant species and the ecosystem have adapted to survive the fires, while weaker species are killed off in the fires. A wildfire is defined as any fire that is burning in a natural environment. These fires provide nutrients released from the burning wood to help lower the decomposition rates in the more humid areas of the park.

The park staff intentionally ignite some of these fires as a vegetation management tool that reduce hazardous fuels in more developed areas, restore the natural landscape, and maintain the cultural landscapes as well. All of this must be strategically planned so that the people who come to the park will not be affected by these conditions. Though they ignite their own fires at times, the park staff also allows nature to run its course. They do not put out lightning-ignited fires out because they are not a threat to the property or the humans.

Wildfires have more benefits than negative factors, but we tend to think of fires as always a bad thing. Wildfires burn off plant species that can no longer compete to survive and it removes the tree branches that are blocking sunlight for the plants on the forest floor. The ashes provide nutrients to the soil and vegetation as well as when the when trees decay. Wildfires also kill off bug and insect species that have infected the trees and leaving the young healthier trees to grow more.

Although wildfires have many benefits, their effects may also cause great harm to the environment. Wildfires can be detrimental to soil, as they burn of a layer of organic material that provide nutrients to the ground below. Without this layer of organic matter, water runs off rather than being absorbed. This overall soil damage can also be attributed to soil erosion.

Another aspect of wildfire control pertains to the controversy surrounding the destruction of man- made buildings. According to the National Fire Protecting Agency, a total of 4,312 structures were destroyed by forest fires in 2016, including 3,000 homes and 70 residential buildings. Unfortunately, we are given the difficult choice of letting nature run its course or intervening to save residential and commercial properties.

What do you think? Should we continue burning our own fires, or solely depend on nature? Or, should we begin containing even naturally occurring fires?

Additional Resources

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/RI_2016_FINAL_Fire_web.pdf

This article discusses the use and impact of fire within Yellowstone National Park. It details the downfalls and benefits of igniting fires throughout the park.

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5323075.pdf

This resource covers the different types of forest fires, and defines the different kinds there may be. It explains how we manage and monitor fire conditions in our forests.

 

https://www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/what-we-do/wildfires-prescribed-fires-and-fuels.cfm

This article also discusses the different types of forest fires and how we manage them differently.

 

http://www.pacificbio.org/initiatives/fire/fire_ecology.html

This resource details benefits and disadvantages to fire ecology. Fire ecology is focused on how fire relates to the environment surrounding it.

 

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/wildfire-and-seasonal-fires/wildland-fires

This resource is sponsored by the National Fire Protecting Agency and provides public education on wildfires.