A Team at the Ranch

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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!

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Cooke City- Oral History Community

We traveled to Cooke City, which is about two hours East from Gardiner, on May 19th. This city contains close to 75-100 people. The landscape of the town was something we weren’t expecting. It composed of one road that contains roughly 15 stores up and down the road. This town is very reminiscent of Main Street in Farmville but less urban with street lights, parking meters, lines on the road, etc. During our time in Cooke City we had the opportunity to interview Troy Wilson and the manager of the Visitor Center: Donna Rowland.

 We had the honor to meet with Troy Wilson who was our oral history interviewee, a business owner of the Cooke City General Store. This store has been in Cooke City since 1886, it used to be the store for all the locals. It was a deli, grocery store, and merchandise store all in one. Eventually the “box stores” known as Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Costco came into town about 80 miles away and locals disappeared and rarely came into  the General Store. With the lack of involvement of the General Store it turned into a gift shop and merchandise store. Instead of just locals as customers, more and more tourists are now starting to buy more and every so often locals will purchase items too. Troy mentioned that towards the end of the season when he closes his shop he tends to have a huge “BLOW OUT SALE” and hosts a huge party with lowered prices on merchandise and drinks. He has this Blow out sale because his business is only opened for six months out of the year.

After our oral history we walked around town and talked to Donna Rowland. She has been a resident of Cooke City for about 13 years, she originally was from Wisconsin and decided to start living in Cooke City when she got married. We then asked her about the town and what her thoughts were on the environment of it. At first the vibe in the conversation was a little uptight but eventually became casual and easygoing.

We questioned her and asked if she missed living in Wisconsin and she said she “No, I love living in Cooke City.” She discussed with us how the summer and winter in Cooke City are very different, there are many people in the summer time rather than in the winter time. Along with that she said that in the winter time a lot of the stores tend to close so they have to go out of town to get groceries, clothes, household items, etc. She added in that she usually plans trips to go out of town and shop in Bosmen which altogether is a 16 hour round trip. This requires planning a day 2-3 hours out of town to drive to Bosmen, a few hours to shop around and then another 2-3 hours heading back to Cooke City. Personally, this sounds like one heck of a long day!

She then mentioned that like every other place in Cooke City tourists are a huge impact on businesses. We asked her how the tourists impact her business; she said,“tourists impact them 150%.” The tourists help provide a great deal of income to them which they all appreciate. We learned that the town is very small but they make the best out of it. They have parades, parties, and festivals that go on during the summers and also have book clubs that are held as well.

Cooke City overall is an eye opener and provides a new perspective on how a town can be. We see how Farmville is and sometimes think that we are in a small town but by looking and traveling around Cooke City, we aren’t so small. Cooke City is small but they have a heart for their town and they make the best of it.

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Gardiner

Within these past three days in Gardiner, we have experienced many changes from our time in Farmville and Jackson. The environment of Gardiner with the roads and trees are different from the other towns we have experienced. The total population of Gardiner is around 875 people compared with a range of 4,000-8,000 people, which is a drastic change and significant difference between the two other towns.We walked around Gardiner on May 18th around 8am in the morning in the middle of town where all the stores are located. While we walked around the town you could definitely see how small the town is and you can get a good feel of the atmosphere in Gardiner.  The people we talked to in Gardiner were extremely nice and provided our group with great detail about the town. We learned a lot about the different businesses in Gardiner and the impact of tourism in the town.

Businesses around the town have increased in size as well as prices with their merchandise. The amount of tourists that come into town is a reason as to why the stores have gotten larger and their prices have increased. Another reason is that the Yellowstone National Park Centennial is taking place right in Gardiner. This event brings in construction, advertisement, and more people to the town.

The amount of tourists are the reason why the prices have increased and a major reason why businesses are in business. Without tourists, businesses wouldn’t be gaining income. We noticed in the store “The Perk” serves the community for multiple purposes. It is an ice cream shop, coffee shop, gift shop, DVD rental place, and the only pharmacy in town. Its pretty crazy that one store has to offer many and different things in order for the town to have those items. This allows the workers and business owners to make enough money to survive.

After The Perk we went to E.L.K. INC. and there we talked to Mr. Don who told us that he is all about his business and how he’s made so many movies and books, regarding the creation of the first ever cow elk call. By creating these items he has been able to create a business from his store that sells to other stores all around the world. This circumstance brings in a whole new and wide range of  income compared to what he makes in town. Another thing we found interesting with talking to Mr.Don was that he  has owned over five business within Gardiner. He has sold two stores to his sons, one he is renting out, and the other has been sold and made into a different store. Most of his kids own a business that he used to own; With this, it shows that the generation of family members are staying with in the town and it continues on a legacy of what their family did.              

The impact of the tourism is what brings in businesses and creates a more economic stability. We have noticed that, without tourism, none of these businesses would be able to stay open. All of the people we have talked to in Gardiner have said just how important tourism is to their town; they said that tourism is how this small town survives. The money they make in season is what helps them last for the rest of the year. They all said that it’s very difficult when they aren’t in season because they aren’t making any money.The woman we talked to at The Perk also said that people in town change their store hours to accommodate the tourists. The fact that the store owners change their store hours for the tourists just shows you how much of an impact the tourism has on their economy.

Overall, Gardiner is a small town with big mountains and great potential. The people that live in this town are all so friendly and are a very tight nit community with each other. They make sure to support each other and keep each other accountable. This town thrives off of the tourism and their businesses, without tourism nothing would be open or available. We believe that the Yellowstone National Park Centennial will bring more community, business, and income to the town. In other words, this is very similar to Farmville with the  Vice Presidential Debate coming to our campus. This Event allows Gardiner and Farmville to gain potential as a town and provide more advertisement of the school/ town are, more construction, and more income.    

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“Place as Text” or “Place as Image”?

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Jackson Hole utilizes a lot of easily recognizable brand and logo schemes within their merchandise that creates a sense of familiarity and develops a sense of place for tourists. Would you say that this is an effective marketing scheme that makes visitors feel more comfortable with Jackson and potentially want to move into the area? #ParkItAtYNP #LUYNP

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Housing at Jackson

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With the complicated housing issue in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, How do you feel about this much space being used for a parking garage? #ParkItAtYNP #LUYNP

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“The Square” at Jackson

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What do you think the main attractions are here at Jackson Hole, Wyoming? #ParkItAtYNP #LUYNP

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Trout Fish Hatchery at Jackson

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There are a lot of limitations and regulations in Jackson (considering it apart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem) that the government puts in place to find a compromise with preserving the wildlife while appealing to the recreational demands of the area. #ParkItAtYNP #PackSixTroutFix #LUYNP

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Jackson

Throughout these past two days in Jackson we have noticed many different interactions as well as atmospheric and environmental comparisons within the town. When walking into Jackson, you feel like you are in more of an urban city setting with the lack of visible presence in police officers.You may ask questions like “Will visibility of police officers impact the environment of the town?” and “Are the police officers hidden and blend in with the nature of the town with being tourist oriented?” Other factors that are considered with in Jackson Hole could be…

Why do many people care so much for this environment and land when they only have a limited amount of space to help it?

Only 3% is owned or can be used by locals because, the rest is owned by the Federal Government.

How can locals come to amends with that? Can they petition or do they just let it be?

While walking around the town of Jackson, we interviewed multiple people asking questions and asking their opinions about the town; Many of these people were either from a store or gift shop. We were lucky enough to meet a group of tourists that were a mixture of locals within a three hour drive and relatives from Tennessee. They stated, “Jackson wouldn’t be where it’s at today without the tourists, Jackson thrives off of the tourists.”

We learned that the people within town have a wide range of views on tourists and that they are familiar with having them coming in and out of the town. However, many have a problem with the amount of disrespect and lack of care they have for the community and wildlife area. They also mentioned how there is a strong inconvenience and aggravation with the significant increase in traffic flow during tourist season. The locals seem to feel disrespected by the tourists such as the complete disregard to walking on pedestrian pathways. Many tourists are not familiar with the cultural customs in Jackson such as invading personal space boundaries or even try to barter with buying something for a cheaper price.The tourists may even cause disruption to the town of Jackson but they also contribute a lot to the economic infrastructure of the town. Store employees and the tourists that we were talking to said that most of the money that is made in Jackson does come from tourists. With most of the money coming in from tourists that leads to thriving business for only the summer season between June and September. During the winter months they also have ski resorts that thrive as well.

Overall Jackson is a wonderful town and it is trying to build and become more like a city. I feel like it is a city with the amount of stores,  restaurants, and the town’s overall opportunity for expansion. We enjoyed our stay here and would love to come back again sometime in our future and experience it, not a tourist, but more as a local now that we have developed a sense of familiarity and place within the town.  

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What Kind of “Park” do we Want Yellowstone to Be?

Yellowstone is known for their wildlife, scenery, mountain tops, and a volcanic hot spot. Millions of visitors are attracted to these aspects of Yellowstone. “Close to 4 million each year.” says Journalist David Quammen. The amount of tourism and people is not as high as Disney Land with 20 million, but 4 million can still affect the nature of Yellowstone as well as cause more stress within the park’s ecosystem. Not only is the park in threat but also the private lands around the park are in effect. People do not realize when they come in the park and buy out 100-300 acres that they are eliminating the homes of bears, elk, and wolves. This action destroys wildlife’s homes but the wildlife sees it has sitting out in your front yard, backyard, and invading on stakeholders lands.

With tourism being one of the largest growing industries, there is the issue of recreation within the park and becoming a detriment to the preservation of the park. Negative effects of tourism occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the ecosystem’s ability to cope with this use within acceptable limits of change. These external stressors can deplete vital natural resources and pollute the environment. As far as pollution, Tourism leads to solid waste and contamination from littering, noise and air pollution from recreational and transportation vehicles, and even visual pollution from newly formed buildings and architecture built in order to accommodate the heavy flow of people in the area.

As far as a significant issue directly affecting the wellbeing of the park, snowmobiles have been targeted as a controversial problem. A survey of snowmobile impacts on noise pollution at Yellowstone found that snowmobile noise could be heard 70% of the time at 11 of 13 sample sites, and 90% of the time at 8 sites. At the Old Faithful geyser, snowmobiles could be heard all day; Snowmobile noise drowns out even the sound of the geyser erupting. Among many other detriments to Yellowstone’s natural environment, we face many stewardship issues with which we have to decide what is right for the park.

 Though tourism has its negative effects on the park it also has positive effects as well. One positive effect that tourism has on Yellowstone is the increased revenue that it brings. According to a recent National Park Service (NPS) report, it was stated that there were more than 3.5 million visitors to Yellowstone National Park in 2014 and that they spent around $421 million in communities near the park. The money that the tourist spent ended up supporting 6,662 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $543.7 million. This increase of jobs can help the community and lifestyle of the population. Not only does the money benefit the local economy but it also benefits the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation. The money that is contributed to environmental protection and conservation is used to raise awareness of issues in the environment. In all Tourism in Yellowstone National Park is very helpful to the economy.

Overall Yellowstone’s tourism can be affected both positively and negatively. This is where the community and public come into play. Do think Yellowstone should allow people to come in with no limitation because it will  increase  job opportunities and contribute to more protection? Or will you take a side of helping the ecosystem with its way of living a natural state. There is lots of thought when it comes to these types of arguments or disagreements. Some people want to look out for the wildlife but then people also want to make a living off of what they love to do.

What do you think? Is tourism overpowering the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park? Should tourism be limited yearly, monthly, weekly, even daily? How can this problem be solved? Do you think more jobs will help the community and ecosystem?

Comment below and tell us about what kind of park you think Yellowstone should be and start a conversation with your friends on social media using our hashtag-

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