Service in Yellowstone – Leah Parr

June 16th, 2016 § Comments Off on Service in Yellowstone – Leah Parr § permalink

Packs 3 and 12 combined to complete the Oral History Interview. We interviewed Dan and Kelly Hartman, residents of Silver Gate, Montana, at the Cooke City, Montana Museum, where Kelly is the Museum Director. Dan, Kelly’s father, is a nationally and internationally recognized wildlife photographer and filmmaker.

I went into the interview with the expectation of learning about someone’s life, what they do for a living, and how residing so close to an international tourist destination affects their daily lives. Kelly and Dan did so much more than I expected; I learned the things I expected to learn, but also how living in these small communities has shaped who they are today.

The biggest thing I took away from this interview was how Kelly and Dan are so proud to be from the Silver Gate-Cooke City community, and how welcoming they were into their lives. The people here are interesting; they are quiet and reserved, yet some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. In the south, we are used to boisterous southern hospitality, but here, the hospitality is just as welcoming, just a little quieter in nature. As the Museum Director, Kelly is proud of the area’s history, and is happy to share anything and everything about the mining-turned-tourist town that has 75 year long residents, and 400 residents in the summer.

The main question we asked all of the people we interviewed, include those in Place as Text interview, is how the tourists affect their daily lives. Dan indicated that although the tourists can be annoying, especially by causing traffic, that at the end of the day they are the ones paying the bills so they have to be respectful. Kelly is excited about the upcoming Centennial season because it means the Cooke City Museum will have as many visitors as it’s had yet; she is expecting about 22,000 this year, a respectful number for a museum that just got its start a few years ago.

I loved hearing about all of Dan’s adventures; he had so many things to share about all the big corporations he has gotten to collaborate with as a wildlife filmography, as well as his intimate encounters with nature. I respect Dan, and am a lithe envious, as he lives a life that many artists can only dream of: the ability to live in a secluded manner with the access of nature excursions everyday, yet being completely immersed in opportunity and work at the same time. I will always remember this about Dan, and will always try to create a similar situation for myself.

I most enjoyed listening to Kelly talk about the one room schoolhouse that is still operative in Cooke City. As the daughter of two educators, and a future educator myself, I grew up amidst education discussions and know what it takes to be a good teacher and to run a school efficiently. Thus, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to how Kelly grew up in this one room schoolhouse, where she attended from kindergarden to eighth grade. It must have been a good education because she went on to earn a BFA at a school in Oregon. I was the primary notetaker for the interview (the notes can be found in my field research journal), therefore I did not get a lot of opportunities to ask questions as I was worried about taking copious notes. However, if given the opportunity, I would like to go back and ask Kelly, and possibly the teacher themselves, about the education system in the school. Does Montana have set standards and a standardized testing system that they follow? What types of curriculums do they use? Do they take advantage of online schooling options as a means of teaching? I would be interested in learning how the Cooke CIty children are taught, what they learn, and how they are benefitted from this type of setting rather than a traditional school setting.

It is important to preserve Dan and Kelly’s oral history because they document what it is like to be a proud citizen of Cooke City, Montana. We can learn from the ways in which they connect with their fellow community members in a supportive system, and how they welcoming the thousands of tourist each year with the same welcoming attitude for each one – not an easy task. Most importantly, we can learn from the way they connect with nature, and how important it is to preserve it for the benefit of the people, the earth, and Mother Nature.

Citizen Leadership, Tourism, and GYE – Leah Parr

June 16th, 2016 § Comments Off on Citizen Leadership, Tourism, and GYE – Leah Parr § permalink

First Reflection

In the May 2016 Special Yellowstone Edition of National Geographic, author David Quammen writes, “there are ways in which Yellowstone is in danger of being loved to death.”

I couldn’t agree more.

As explained in my Wildlife Wonderland reflection, I believe in the coexistence of humans and other wildlife, with humans interfering with the wildlife in the least amounts as possible. I believe that humans should leave the animals alone, so that they may live the life nature intended for them. With millions of people visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton each year, it poses threats to these animals. More and more will retreat away from the main roads and into deep backcountry, and eventually backcountry will become too crowded with animals, and the land will not be able to provide enough subsistence. Too many human interactions will result in the domestication of some animals, including the bison calf that was put in the back of the car that was later euthanized, which is not the goal of the National Park Service. Thus, the increased amount of visitors that parks will see this year due to the Centennial poses potential dangers to the safety of our nation’s wildlife.

Additionally, the greater amounts of humans, the more negative effects we have on the land. This comes in the form of trash, car pollution, and human disturbances on the land, such as throwing debris into the hot springs. With the NPS Centennial celebrations all across the country, more and more people are finding their way to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. In the past few weeks alone, there have been several instances of people not following directions, leaving those importance sidewalks, and falling through the hot springs. Others have thrown trash, coins, etc. into the hot springs and most recently, have tried to collect the water as a form of souvenir.

Humans love Yellowstone, love it beyond the point of its satisfaction. Although the family loved that bison and just wanted it to be safe, their wrongfully placed intentions resulted in the death of a bison calf and fear that something like this will happen again and again. People love the hydrothermal features, so much that they want to be a part of them, take a part of them home with them. People must learn that it is absolutely okay and encouraged to love Yellowstone, but you must do so in a way that is respectful of the land from a distance, not in a way that interactively harms the land.

Quammen is correct in saying that it is possible to love Yellowstone too much. Park rangers and other officials must take extra care during this year of Centennial celebration, that people understand how to love and appreciate the land in a respectful manner.


Second Reflection

My recreation exploration activity was horseback riding in the Gallatin National Forest in Montana. This was provided by Hell’s-a-Roarin’ Outfitters, a quite popular outfitting and horse breeding ranch that draws in hunters and vacationers every year.

Horseback riding itself has minimal negative effects on the ecosystem. There is some damage to the land because of hoof destruction of grass, but the National Forest created these trails so there would only be minimal damage in certain places, and not damage everywhere. When riding, we had to make sure that our horses stayed on the trail because if they didn’t, they could increase the size (width) of the trail, and then the National Forest fines the ranch for the damage. (Although the ranch is not located in the National Forest, they use the public trails provided by the National Forest for their horseback riding excursions.) The only other slightly negative effect is the amount of manure, but this can in turn be used for fertilizer; just another way of Mother Nature making sure the ecosystem balances out, and that there is a full circle of beneficial life.

Hunting is another service the outfitter provides. Hunting can sometimes be good, as it keeps population numbers in check, but overkill can damage the genetic variety of a population, as well as the threat of labeling the species as endangered, which a lot of hunted species already are. There is always the ethical standpoint of hunting, however there will always be those who believe in the value of recreational hunting. The ranch just needs to keep their hunted numbers in check, to make sure that they are not damaging the population numbers and threatening the existence of a specific species. This particular outfitter focuses on elk hunting, however when we were there, a guest had shot down a black bear.


Third Reflection 

The engraved Roosevelt quote on the Gardiner arch, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” has guarded the Yellowstone entrance for 100 years. To say that I did not enjoy my recreation experience would be a lie; I thoroughly enjoyed the connection I made with my horse and my fellow classmates while riding; I also enjoyed the gorgeous views of the Montana mountains that we saw on the trail.

Thus, Roosevelt’s statement is true; people flock to the GYE for their enjoyment, to view the animals, to hike, to camp, to relax, to white water raft, to ride horses, and many other recreational activities. I do support the quote in this manner. However, for the benefit and the enjoyment of the people is not, at least should not, be the sole existence of the park. I do not know if that was what Roosevelt was intending, however today, the park stands for a lot more than what it did when it was first created. In addition to serving the people with its available recreation activities, Yellowstone and the GYE also exists to provide refuge and solitude to thousands of wild animals in one of the biggest naturally preserved areas and intact ecosystem in the entire United States. It also exists to preserve the uniqueness of the land, just as the park first did when it was established in 1872.

In order to prevent loving the park too much, park officials may consider creating a maximum cap of attendance. The public would probably not be happy with this, however it would be no different than placing a maximum cap of attendance on a theme or amusement park. This cap would be for the protection of the people, animals, and the land.

In order to minimize my impact on the ecosystem, I can just frankly stay away and not visit. However, because I want to visit again, I can think about minimizing my impact in ways such as leaving the animals alone, recycling more and putting out very little trash, and eating more organic grown foods that advocate for the natural treatment of the land.

Wildlife Wonderland – Leah Parr

June 16th, 2016 § Comments Off on Wildlife Wonderland – Leah Parr § permalink

Observing Boreal Chorus Frogs in the Yellowstone Wetlands.
Observing Boreal Chorus Frogs in the Yellowstone Wetlands.
Bison jam in Mammoth Hot Springs.
Bison jam in Mammoth Hot Springs.
Bear jam, a momma grizzly and her two cubs, on the road to Gardiner, Montana.
Bear jam, a momma grizzly and her two cubs, on the road to Gardiner, Montana.

Before coming to Yellowstone, I did not have much of an opinion on wildlife issues. I had a neutral opinion on the subject, and was ready to receive various perspective and points of view through open eyes and ears upon arriving in the GYE.

My family does not hunt (we never really do much outdoors, which is another reason I am glad I participated in this experience because it opened my eyes to the outside world), therefore I never heard about all the controversial issues that surround this recreational activity. However, after my experiences in Yellowstone, I have most definitely formulated an opinion on how we humans should treat other wildlife species.

One can argue evolution, one can argue divine creation, and one can argue the spirit of Mother Nature. However, one cannot deny that all creatures were put on this earth to cohabit, to live in a world that is balanced environmentally, each species working to balance the other. How unfortunate it is, really, that man hath evolved to his state today, considering himself the superior species on the planet, ruling over all of the other ones. That however, is not the case, especially evident by how visitors are injured by animals in the park each year.

This is why I now believe that man should just leave all the wild animals alone. Stop trying to pet them. Stop trying to get close up pictures of them. Stop putting them in the back of your cars. I did not have an opinion on wildlife issues before coming to Yellowstone, therefore it was my entire experiences in Yellowstone that shaped my opinion. I just think it is so sad how people want to get close to the animal, just to see how close they can get, or just to get a super cool up close picture. I thought it was so sad how bear jams and bison jams and other animal jams create such havoc and chaos on the side of the Yellowstone roads, which, are not very big to begin with. These animals are just trying to live their lives. Just trying to find food and shelter for themselves and their offspring so they can survive. Just trying to protect themselves and their offspring. We are taking away from their natural processes by getting so up close and personal with them and all up in their faces. It truly sickened me how these animals are negatively affected because of the selfish actions of the humans.

That being said, my beliefs are contradictory because I also see the benefits of animal research and tracking: learning animal migration patterns, studying DNA to research the effects of evolution, etc. Humans have the capability of helping the wild animals, for example, veterinary care, in ways that are beneficial to their existence. However, humans should not limit animals’ capabilities to live their lives naturally. For example, it is argued that wolf collars impair their ability to defend themselves in a fight, as well as the culling of bison that occurs each year. I see the benefits of animal research, and I encourage that it continues, but in a way that is minimally invasive of animals’ daily lives.

As for the hunting issues, I do believe that hunting for food is ethically okay because humans were hunters and gatherers at one point in time. We had to hunt back then in order to survive, and that continues into today. What is the difference between sending a cattle to slaughter and killing an elk for the sole purpose of food? Okay, one can argue a lot of differences there, however the purpose of killing the animal is for food, which homo sapiens are naturally programmed to do. I do not think that trophy hunting for the sake of the kill is ethically okay, however I realize that there are individuals who will always believe in trophy hunting, and to that I say, “everything in moderation.” We should not be killing for the purpose of extirpating, but for a continuation in the balance of the ecosystem.

I had wonderful encounters with wildlife in Yellowstone, and I am very fortunate to have had them. I like to think that I did so in a minimally invasive way, such as observing bison from a hundred yards away, not invading their personal space in any way, and driving past the bear jam we passed while traveling to Gardiner instead of stopping and adding to the crowd. My personal favorite wildlife encounters included the amphibian natural history foray, when we got to get up close and personal with not just the amphibians, but also birds (sora, specifically) as well, and the bison jam in Mammoth, when I unintentionally got six feet away from a bison because all my other group members had gotten in the van, that was near the bison, and I thought they were going to leave me behind. (The bison herd was moving near a line of parked cars. Everyone else had gotten in the vans but I had not, so I continued to get closer to the vans despite the oncoming bison because I was afraid they were going to leave me, not because I wanted to get closer to the bison. It ended up that the bison had already moved to close, and one came up behind me without my knowledge. A park ranger yelled at me to move, I turned around and saw the bison only six feet away, and I calmly turned around and started walking in the other direction. It was quite terrifying, and only validated to me how we really should just leave the bison alone.)

Yellowstone has given me an appreciate for wildlife that I never even knew I had. I appreciate the existence of the animals, as we were all put on this earth to coexist together and benefit from each other. We all deserve the right to live our lives without necessary interference from other species; therefore humans should provide that wild animals are able to live their lives naturally, and with the least human interference as possible.

Fire Photography

May 29th, 2016 § Comments Off on Fire Photography § permalink

Photography of fire evidence can be found under the “Photography” tab on our blog (link below).

Public Documents

May 29th, 2016 § Comments Off on Public Documents § permalink

Public documents for our issue can be found under the “Public Documents” tab on our blog (link below).

Photographs as Visual Data

May 28th, 2016 § Comments Off on Photographs as Visual Data § permalink

In this post we are showing you all 3 important images that convey our packs issue of fire management that we found during our exploration through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

If you have any other pictures to share with us please tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

#ItsLitYNP                                                                                                                       IMG_2385 IMG_2665

The image to the left is telling the public that forest fires are a threat to the community and that the community needs to always know how high the risks of fires are in their location However, the image to the right talks about how wildfires are a benefit to the ecosystem because they not only help for seed dispersal to grow more trees, but also benefit elk, bison, wolves, etc. The contrast between these two images are quite interesting because the image on the left portrays fire in a negative, life threatening light while the image on the right portrays fire as a benefit to the natural park. I think both these images are successful at portraying their message because they both have a clear way of communicating the issue at stake. I think the contrast in the messages being communicated led to a greater argument of whether or not fires should be viewed in a negative light or a positive light.


This photo really caught our eye because fire management is a huge concern for the locals that live near the forests. They have a massive amount of expensive land and some of it is being burned in the process of the forest fires which decreases the value and also the beautiful view that they paying for. This image shows how powerful a fire can be, it can erase everything in it’s path, and therefore, conveys how important fire management is in Yellowstone National Park.


This picture was important to put in our gallery because it really shows the distinct path that the fire took and also how the trees have regrown.  Wildfires are beneficial for the ecosystem because they allow for the regeneration and spread of lodge pole pine trees which open up and disperse when heat is around them. Fires do not just help trees regenerate but they provide a food source for elk and black bears.  We learned this information from Dr. Kelrick during our oral history foray!


public documents found around Yellowstone

May 28th, 2016 § Comments Off on public documents found around Yellowstone § permalink

Public documents are meant to convey a message to the community about a particular event or issue. They can be anything from maps and brochures to signs and quotes off walls. These are some examples we found around the park the relate to our pack’s issue of fire and other big issues in Yellowstone.






This public document is about recreation in Yellowstone, specifically ziplining.This relates to my lenses topic of economics within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem because I have noticed that a lot of towns within the ecosystem depend on Yellowstone Tourists to keep their economy up and running. This public document was found on the streets of Gardiner, MT and judging by the location this brochure was found I can tell that the town of Gardiner uses tourism to fuel their economy.   While reading the document I noticed that the audience this document is geared to is tourists because they use phrases such as “Gaze at the gorgeous pristine vistas” and “Have a birds eye view of the basin.” These phrases can also be used to draw non locals into using their business which brings us back to the general theme that most Yellowstone towns solely depend on tourism to keep their economy running.





public document 2

This is a public document found in the Grand Canyon visitor center. It was a huge picture on the wall just as you walked in and it stared at you. This is a place where many tourists visit and I know when I saw it made me want to return back to this beautiful place. I believe this picture was trying to catch a visitor’s eye and make them stop and capture the beauty of the Geiser, just as I did. This public document related to my aesthetics lense because it truly shows the natural beauty of the park. It was so amazing to me because of how big, colorful, and realistic it looked. The quote above it dictates what my original thought was, “Yellowstone National Park is an immense, active volcano- one of the largest and most violent on Earth,” and when I look at this picture I think of beautiful and breath-taking it is not about how potentially dangerous that geiser could be. Everything we look at depends on our perspective and the lense that we are looking through, this public document is just a tiny example of that.

 This is another public document relating to our pack’s controversial topic of fire. When exploring Yellowstone we noticed that there were a lot of signs talking about how the people of Yellowstone can prevent fire. However, when we were talking to scientists and looking around the visitor’s center we noticed that fire actually helps the ecosystem. Fire helps spread seeds of trees and provide food for elk, bison, and bears of Yellowstone. This document relates to our topic of fire because we want to know which is the best way to handle fire and from information gathered, most people of Yellowstone lean toward letting fires burn naturally instead of trying to control them.




A Team at the Ranch

May 28th, 2016 § Comments Off on A Team at the Ranch § permalink


This is where we completed our leisure activity which was horse back riding and where we had the final cook out dinner with everyone! As a group we helped, listened, and motivated each other through out our service work, adventure, and having fun with each other! We were all engaged through sight seeing and from those observations we learned a lot throughout our trip!


About Me: Joshua Baker

May 27th, 2016 § Comments Off on About Me: Joshua Baker § permalink

I’m Josh. I’m an animation student at Longwood. I’m a rising junior who isn’t really involved in any school activities, but I do contribute to the paper from time to time. This was my first trip to the west and a big leap for me. I was really excited to go out west and examine the wildlife and look at the beautiful landscapes. It was an experience that I will cherish. My hope is that with these experiences I will be able to share my story, and the stories of those who I’ve met, with the world.

About Me: Joshua Baker

May 27th, 2016 § Comments Off on About Me: Joshua Baker § permalink

I’m Josh. I’m an animation student at Longwood. I’m a rising junior who isn’t really involved in any school activities, but I do contribute to the paper from time to time. This was my first trip to the west and a big leap for me. I was really excited to go out west and examine the wildlife and look at the beautiful landscapes. It was an experience that I will cherish. My hope is that with these experiences I will be able to share my story, and the stories of those who I’ve met, with the world.