Yellowstone Founded - History

Yellowstone Founded - History

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After a concerted effort by conservationalists, a vast area of Wyoming and Colorado was set aside to become Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone marked the first concrete action by the federal government to preserve parts of the western wilderness, which was rapidly being settled.

The Crow occupied the area generally east of the park, and the Blackfeet occupied the area to the north. The Shoshone, Bannock, and other tribes of the plateaus to the west traversed the park annually to hunt on the plains to the east. Other Shoshonean groups hunted in open areas west and south of Yellowstone.
A number of Native American tribes lived in the area around the area that became Yellowstone National Park. The Crow had there camping ground to the east of the park, the Blackfeet were to the North and the Shoshone and Bannock were to the west and and south. By the last 1700’s fur trapper and other explorers had crossed the park and brought back stories of some of the wonders of the park.

The first attempt at a systematic exploration of the park was an expedition by Captain William F. Raynolds in 1860, but a late snow limited the exploration. In 1869 David E. Folsom, Charles W. Cook, and William Peterson led an expedition that explored much of the park. It created a great deal interest in the park and the next year Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition took place which explored even more of the area of the park. The next year Ferdinand V. Hayden, head of the US Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories led a scientific expedition that included geologists, zoologist and other scientists. The Hayden Expedition systematically mapped out the park. Their reports captivated scientists and non scientists alike. Enthusiasm for the park was so strong that Congress passed a bill establishing Yellowstone as the first National Park, and it was signed into law by President Grant on March 1, 1872

Park Facts

About 3,200 people work for concessioners in Yellowstone at summer peak.


  • Eleven visitor centers, museums, and contact stations
  • Nine hotels/lodges (2,000+ hotel rooms/cabins)
  • Seven NPS-operated campgrounds (450+ sites)
  • Five concession-operated campgrounds (1,700+ sites)
  • More than 1,500 buildings
  • 52 picnic areas and one marina

Roads & Trails

  • Five park entrances
  • 466 miles (750 km) of roads (310 miles [499 km] paved)
  • More than 15 miles (24 km) of boardwalk, including 13 self-guiding trails
  • Approximately 1,000 miles (1,609 km) of backcountry hiking trails
  • 92 trailheads
  • 301 backcountry campsites


Park Support: 9% Includes human resources, contracting, budget and fnance, partnerships, telecommunications, and information technology.

Facility Operations and Maintenance: 44% Includes utilities, roads, trails, structures, historic preservation coordination, construction management.

Park Protection: 20% Includes law enforcement, emergency medical services, search and rescue, entrance station operations, structural fre activities.

Resource Stewardship: 17% Includes management operations and monitoring of natural and cultural resources, invasive species management, research coordination.

Visitor Services: 10% Includes interpretation and education, and park concessions management.

Real estate developer Tim Blixseth purchased approximately 100,000 acres (400 sq km) of timberland, partly in purchases from Plum Creek Timber and engaged in swaps of land with the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Government ("Gallatin Land Exchanges"). [1] This land swap process was enabled by two specialized acts of Congress in the 1990s. [2] Blixseth ultimately ended up with a large amount of developable land adjacent to the Big Sky Resort in Montana. [3] The Yellowstone Club private ski and golf community was developed by Blixseth and used as collateral for a $375 million syndicated loan where the proceeds were used for other purposes, including an effort to build an exclusive luxury vacation club based on acquiring resort properties around the world. This venture failed, Mr. Blixseth and his wife divorced and the Yellowstone Club entered bankruptcy in November 2008. [3]

During its peak season, almost 650 people are employed at the club. [4]

The club was featured on CNBC's lifestyle show High Net Worth with Tyler Mathisen.

Cyclist Greg LeMond, an early investor and homeowner/member, sued the club in 2006, saying club founder Tim Blixseth and his former wife Edra Denise (Crocker) Blixseth had borrowed $375 million from Credit Suisse Group and took $209 million for themselves as a dividend, jilting him and other investors. The suit was settled in 2008 for $39.5 million. [5] Ms. Blixseth eventually agreed to pay Mr. LeMond and others a $21.5 million settlement she paid only $8 million of that amount and Mr. LeMond and others joined the group of her creditors in her personal bankruptcy. [6]

Other members identified in, or cited in, the Times report were Burt Sugarman, a Beverly Hills businessman, and his wife, the Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart Steve Burke, the chief operating officer of Comcast Bill Frist, the former Senate majority leader Todd Thomson, the former head of Citigroup’s private banking unit Robert Greenhill, founder of the investment bank Greenhill & Company Annika Sörenstam, the Swedish golf star Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers Jim Davidson, a founder of Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm in Menlo Park (CA) Brian Klein, a former Goldman Sachs vice president who now runs an investment management firm in Seattle Peter Chernin of the News Corporation Barry Sternlicht, hotelier and CEO of Starwood Capital Group and Gary Riesche], a venture capitalist with Qiming Venture Partners. Jack Kemp, the late U.S. politician, was on the club’s honorary board of directors with Mr. Quayle, among others.

The Yellowstone Club is one of several developments that has been the subject of litigation between investors and Credit Suisse. The investors have accused Credit Suisse of fraudulently inflating the value of the developments in order to generate higher fees for itself. [7] The core of the allegations centered on a new appraisal methodology conceived of by Credit Suisse executive David Miller, who in internal emails is referred to as Credit Suisse’s Dr. Frankenstein. [8] The Swiss bank has repeatedly denied the allegations.

2008-2009 bankruptcy protection Edit

On November 10, 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession, the Yellowstone Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It emerged from protection under new ownership on July 19, 2009. [9] When filing, the Club's prior owners owed US$343 million to creditors, such as banks and local contractors. [10]

In June 2009 Edra Blixseth spoke to a reporter for The New York Times about her and her ex-husband's business affairs from Porcupine Creek, her 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m 2 ) estate in Rancho Mirage, CA. She said she had hoped to retain the Club and her various estates and make Porcupine Creek income-producing with its 240-acre (0.97 km 2 ) private golf course. However, Porcupine Creek was sold to Larry Ellison in 2011 for $42.9 million by creditors who also sold the Blixseth's Chateau de Farcheville in France and other assets. [11]

In June 2009, as part of the bankruptcy resolution, the Yellowstone Club was sold for $115 million to a private equity firm, CrossHarbor Capital Partners, a firm led by a Yellowstone Club member, Sam Byrne. [3] Prior to the bankruptcy and disclosure of the Credit Suisse-Blixseth loan details, negotiations with that same buyer had put a $400 million price tag on the club. In the 2009 bankruptcy transaction, Byrne also "invested $75 million above the purchase price in repairs and set aside an additional $15 million to pay the club’s creditors," according to the Times. [6] The deal was brokered by Jeff Woolson, Managing Director of the CBRE Golf & Resort Properties Group, [12] and Steve Lehr, Managing Director of CBRE's Land Services Group. CB Richard Ellis was selected by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to market the property because of the firm's successful track record handling complicated transactions.

In November 2010 some parts of the bankruptcy reorganization were appealed [13] by former owner Tim Blixseth, particularly those concerning the settlement with Credit Suisse and aspects of the bankruptcy allowing creditors to pursue Blixseth for "hundreds of millions" they claim he siphoned from the Club for his personal use. [14] In 2012 Blixseth's appeals were dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit. [15]

Post bankruptcy history Edit

According to press reports, as of late 2014 the Yellowstone Club has no remaining debt from the bankruptcy, has positive cash flow and has doubled its membership to more than 500 households. [3] In late 2013 CrossHarbor partnered with Boyne Resorts, the owners of neighboring Big Sky Resort, and paid $26 million to acquire a nearby real estate project, Spanish Peaks, a 5,700 acre development in bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter CrossHarbor and Big Sky Resort jointly acquired the bankrupt Moonlight Basin ski club and began consolidation of the newly acquired ski terrain with that of Big Sky Resort. [3] [16] Hart Howerton is working with CrossHarbor on the master planning of their entire 25,000 acre landholding, as well as architectural design of the Yellowstone Club Village Core and Spanish Peaks Lodge.

Location and ski mountain Edit

The Yellowstone Club resort has several lifts and ski runs that tie it directly into Big Sky Resort's lift system. The Big Sky ski area and the Yellowstone Club share a five-mile border. The ski resorts are surrounded by 250,000 acres of the Gallatin National Forest. [3]

Snowfall averages approximately 300 inches a year and is very consistent from year to year and week to week. Although it is one of the few western ski resorts located east of the continental divide, the area receives consistent light snows. The club's tagline is "Private Powder" and this is made possible by frequent snows and low skier traffic.

The ski terrain is extensive and varied and compares favorably with other well known ski resorts. Pioneer Ridge has numerous "double black" expert runs and challenging chutes. The west side of Pioneer Mountain is a vast forest for tree skiing. Lower Pioneer Mountain and Andesite Mountain are dotted with high speed chairlifts and mainly intermediate ski runs. The mountain has 2200 acres for skiing.

The club also features cross country skiing, ice skating and numerous indoor activities. Many additional recreational opportunities are available in summer including golf, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and fly fishing.


In 1872, when Yellowstone National Park was created, there was yet no legal protection for wildlife in the park. In the early years of the park, administrators, hunters and tourists were essentially free to kill any game or predator they came across. The gray wolf was especially vulnerable to this wanton killing because it was generally considered an undesirable predator and was being willingly extirpated throughout its North American range. In January 1883, the Secretary of the Interior issued regulations prohibiting hunting of most park animals, but the regulations did not apply to wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions and other small predators. [1]

Shortly after the U.S. Army took over admin of the park on August 1, 1890, Captain Moose Harris, the first military superintendent, allowed public hunting of any wildlife and any predator control was to be left to the park's administration. [2] Official records show however, that the U.S. Army did not begin killing any wolves until 1914. [3]

In 1885, Congress created the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy with the express purpose of research for the protection of wildlife. The agency soon became the U.S. Biological Survey which was the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1907, under political pressure from the western cattle and livestock industries, this agency began a concerted program which eventually was called: Animal Damage Control. This predator control program alone killed 1,800 wolves and 23,000 coyotes in 39 U.S. National Forests in 1907. [3] In 1916, when the National Park Service was created, its enabling legislation included words that authorized the Secretary of the Interior to "provide in his discretion for the destruction of such animals and of such plant life as may be detrimental to the use of said parks, monuments and reservations". [3]

It is generally accepted that sustainable gray wolf packs had been extirpated from Yellowstone National Park by 1926, [1] although the National Park Service maintained its policies of predator control in the park until 1933. [3] However, a 1975–77 National Park Service sponsored study revealed that during the period 1927 to 1977, there were several hundred probable sightings of wolves in the park. [4] Between 1977 and the re-introduction in 1995, there were additional reliable sightings of wolves in the park, most believed to be singles or pairs transiting the region. [5]

Official records of wolves killed Edit

Prior to the National Park Service assuming control of the park in 1916, the U.S. Army killed 14 wolves during their tenure (1886–1916), [3] most in the years 1914–15. [1] In 1940, Adolph Murie, a noted wildlife biologist published his Fauna Series No. 4—Fauna of the National Parks of the United States-Ecology of the Coyote in the Yellowstone National Park. In this report, Murie tallied the number of wolves killed as reported annually by park administrators between 1915 and 1935: [6]

From the Superintendent's Annual Report:
Year Number killed
1915 7
1916 14
1917 4
1918 36
1919 6
1920 28
1921 12
1922 24
1923 8
1924–1935 0

Updated research in the 1980's verified that the last official killing of wolves in the park took place in 1926 when two pups found near Soda Butte Creek were killed by park rangers. [7] The last reported wolf killed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (prior to today's legal hunting or control measures) occurred in May 1943 when Leo Cottenoir, a Native American sheepheader on the Wind River Reservation shot a wolf near the southern border of the park. [8]

Ecological impacts Edit

Once the wolves were gone, elk populations began to rise. Over the next few years conditions of Yellowstone National Park declined drastically. A team of scientists visiting Yellowstone in 1929 and 1933 reported, "The range was in deplorable conditions when we first saw it, and its deterioration has been progressing steadily since then." By this time many biologists were worried about eroding land and plants dying off. The elk were multiplying inside the park and deciduous, woody species such as aspen and cottonwood suffered from overgrazing. The park service started trapping and moving the elk and, when that was not effective, killing them. Elk population control methods continued for more than 30 years. Elk control prevented further degradation of the range, but didn't improve its overall condition. At times, people would mention bringing wolves back to Yellowstone to help control the elk population. Yellowstone's managers were not eager to bring back wolves, especially after so successfully extirpating them from the park. Elk control continued into the 1960's. In the late 1960's, local hunters began to complain to their congressmen that there were too few elk, and the congressmen threatened to stop funding Yellowstone. Killing elk was given up as control method which allowed elk populations to again rise. As elk populations rose, the quality of the range decreased affecting many other animals. Without wolves, coyote populations increased dramatically which adversely impacted the pronghorn antelope population. [9] However, it was the overly large elk populations that caused the most profound changes to the ecosystem of Yellowstone with the absence of wolves. [10]

Re-introduction initiatives Edit

The campaign to restore the gray wolf in Yellowstone had its roots in a number of seminal studies related to the predator-prey ecology of the park. In 1940 Adolph Murie published Ecology of the Coyote in the Yellowstone National Park. That study and his 1940–41 work The Wolves of Mount McKinley was instrumental in building a scientific foundation for wolf conservation. [11] In 1944, noted wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold, once an avid predator control advocate, made the following comments in his review of The Wolves of North America, Young and Goldman, 1944:

There still remains, even in the United States, some areas of considerable size in which we feel that both red and gray [wolves] may be allowed to continue their existence with little molestation. . Where are these areas? Probably every reasonable ecologist will agree that some of them should lie in the larger national parks and wilderness areas: for instance Yellowstone and its adjacent national forests. . Why, in the necessary process of extirpating wolves from livestock ranges of Wyoming and Montana, were not some of the uninjured animals used to restock Yellowstone?

By the 1960s, cultural and scientific understanding of ecosystems was changing attitudes toward the wolf and other large predators. In part, this included the emergence of Robert Paine's concept of the keystone species. In the early 1960s, Douglas Pimlott, a noted Canadian wildlife biologist was calling for the restorations of wolves in the northern rockies. In 1970 American wolf expert, David Mech published The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species (1970, 1981), an enlightening study of the wolf and its impact on its environment. [13] In 1978, when wildlife biologist John Weaver published his seminal study Wolves of Yellowstone, he concluded the report with the following recommendation:

Therefore I recommend restoring this native predator by introducing wolves to Yellowstone

The gray wolf was one of the first species to be listed as endangered (1967) under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. [14] However, until the passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, there was no legal basis or process for re-introducing the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. [13] The Endangered Species Act obligated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop restoration plans for each species designated as Endangered. The first recovery plan was completed in 1980 but gained little traction. In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a revised Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan which led the way to wolf reintroduction. The plan was a cooperative effort between the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, academia, state wildlife agencies and environmental groups. Its Executive Summary contains the following:

The Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan represents a "road map" to recovery 'of the gray wolf in' the Rocky Mountains. The primary goal of the plan is to remove the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf from the endangered and threatened species list by securing and maintaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs of wolves in each of the three recovery areas for a minimum of three successive years.

In 1991 Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the express purpose of reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park and regions of Central Idaho. The final statement was published on April 14, 1994 and seriously examined five potential alternatives for reestablishing wolves in Yellowstone and central Idaho. [16]

  • Reintroduction of Experimental Populations (incorporating most of the state implemented nonessential reintroduction alternative with parts of the 1987 Recovery Plan).
  • Natural Recovery (with limited land-use restrictions in anticipation of some illegal killing of wolves).
  • No wolf (as proposed in alternative scoping).
  • Wolf Management Committee (as proposed by Congress).
  • Reintroduction of Non-experimental Wolves (incorporating the accelerated wolf recovery alternative but with fewer land-use restrictions)

Alternative 1 was the recommended and ultimately adopted alternative:

Reintroduction of Experimental Populations Alternative – The purpose of this alternative is to accomplish wolf recovery by reintroducing wolves designated as nonessential experimental populations to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho and by implementing provisions within Section 10(j) of the ESA to conduct special management to address local concerns. The states and tribes would be encouraged to implement the special rules for wolf management outside national parks and national wildlife refuges under cooperative agreement with the FWS.

The final EIS opened the way for re-introduction, but not without opposition. The Sierra Club and National Audubon Society opposed the re-introduction plan on the grounds that Experimental populations were not protected enough once the wolves were outside the park. The Farm Bureau's of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana opposed the plan on the basis that the wrong subspecies of wolf—Canis lupus occidentalis (northwestern wolf (Canada)) instead of Canis lupus irremotus (Northern Rocky Mountains wolf) was selected for reintroduction. These objections were overcome and in January 1995, the process of physically reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone began. [18]

Initial releases 1995–96 Edit

In January 1995, U.S. and Canadian wildlife officials captured 14 wolves from multiple packs east of Jasper National Park, near Hinton, Alberta, Canada. These wolves arrived in Yellowstone in two shipments—January 12, 1995 (8 wolves) and January 20, 1995 (6 wolves). They were released into three acclimation pens—Crystal Creek, Rose Creek and Soda Butte Creek in the Lamar Valley in Northeast East Yellowstone National Park. In March 1995, the pens were opened and between March 21 and March 31, 1995 all 14 wolves were loose in Yellowstone. [19]

Seventeen additional wolves captured in Canada arrived in Yellowstone in January 1996 and were released into the park in April 1996 from the Chief Joseph, Lone Star, Druid Peak and Nez Perce pens. These were the last wolves released into the park as officials believed that the natural reproduction and survival were sufficient to obviate additional releases. [19] [20]

Annual wolf status since reintroduction Edit

Wolf population declines, when they occur, result from "intraspecific strife," food stress, mange, canine distemper, legal hunting of wolves in areas outside the park (for sport or for livestock protection) and in one case in 2009, lethal removal by park officials of a human-habituated wolf. [22]

*1995-99 Data reflects status of the wolf in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Since 2000 monitoring has focused on packs operating within park boundaries. Wolves continue to spread to surrounding areas, and the last official report by the park for the Greater Yellowstone Area counted 272 wolves in 2002.

Annual status of Wolves in Yellowstone (as of December) [23]
Year Total number of packs Total number of wolves Number of pups surviving
1995* 3 21 9
1996* 9 51 14
1997* 9 86 49
1998* 11 112 36
1999* 11 118 38
2000 8 119 55-60
2001 10 132 43
2002 14 148 58
2003 13–14 174 59
2004 16 171 59
2005 [24] 13 118 22
2006 13 136 60
2007 11 171 64
2008 12 124 22
2009 [22] 14 96 23
2010 [25] 11 97 38
2011 [26] 10 98 34
2012 [27] 10 83 20
2013 [28] 10 95 41
2014 [29] 11 104 40
2015 [30] 10 98 35
2016 [31] 11 108 36
2017 [32] 11 97 21
2018 [33] 9 80 24
2019 [34] 8 94 42

Ecological impacts after re-introduction Edit

Scientists have been researching and studying the impacts on the Yellowstone ecosystem since re-introduction in 1995.

As the wolf population in the park has grown, the elk population, their favored prey, has declined. Prior to reintroduction, the EIS predicted that wolves would kill an average 12 elk per wolf annually. This estimate proved too low as wolves are now killing an average of 22 elk per wolf annually. [35] This decline in elk has resulted in changes in flora, most specifically willows, cottonwoods and aspens along the fringes of heavily timbered areas. Although wolf kills are directly attributable to declines in elk numbers, some research has shown that elk behavior has been significantly altered by wolf predation. The constant presence of wolves have pushed elk into less favorable habitats, raised their stress level, lowered their nutrition and their overall birth rate. [36]

The wolves became significant predators of coyotes after their reintroduction. Since then, in 1995 and 1996, the local coyote population went through a dramatic restructuring. Until the wolves returned, Yellowstone National Park had one of the densest and most stable coyote populations in America due to a lack of human impacts. Two years after the wolf reintroductions, the pre-wolf population of coyotes had been reduced to 50% through both competitive exclusion and intraguild predation. Coyote numbers were 39% lower in the areas of Yellowstone where wolves were reintroduced. In one study, about 16% of radio-collared coyotes were preyed upon by wolves. Yellowstone coyotes have had to shift their territories as a result, moving from open meadows to steep terrain. Carcasses in the open no longer attract coyotes when a coyote is chased on flat terrain, it is often killed. They feel more secure on steep terrain where they will often lead a pursuing wolf downhill. As the wolf comes after it, the coyote will turn around and run uphill. Wolves, being heavier, cannot stop and the coyote gains a large lead. Though physical confrontations between the two species are usually dominated by the larger wolves, coyotes have been known to attack wolves if they outnumber them. Both species will kill each other's pups given the opportunity. [37] [38]

Coyotes, in their turn, naturally suppress foxes, so the diminished coyote population has led to a rise in foxes, and "That in turn shifts the odds of survival for coyote prey such as hares and young deer, as well as for the small rodents and ground-nesting birds the foxes stalk. These changes affect how often certain roots, buds, seeds and insects get eaten, which can alter the balance of local plant communities, and so on down the food chain all the way to fungi and microbes." [39]

The presence of wolves has also coincided with a dramatic rise in the park's beaver population where there was just one beaver colony in Yellowstone in 2001, there were nine beaver colonies in the park by 2011. The presence of wolves seems to have encouraged elk to browse more widely, diminishing their pressure on stands of willow, a plant that beavers need to survive the winter. [40] The renewed presence of beavers in the ecosystem has substantial effects on the local watershed because the existence of beaver dams "even[s] out the seasonal pulses of runoff store[s] water for recharging the water table and provide[s] cold, shaded water for fish." [41] Beaver dams also counter erosion and create "new pond and marsh habitats for moose, otters, mink, wading birds, waterfowl, fish, amphibians and more." [39]

Similarly, after the wolves' reintroduction, their increased predation of elk benefited Yellowstone's grizzly bear population, as it led to a significant increase in the growth of berries in the national park, an important food source for the grizzly bears. [42]

Wolf kills are scavenged by and thus feed a wide array of animals, including, but not limited to, ravens, wolverines, bald eagles, golden eagles, grizzly bears, black bears, jays, magpies, martens and coyotes. [39]

Meanwhile, wolf packs often claim kills made by cougars, which has driven that species back out of valley hunting grounds to their more traditional mountainside territory. [39]

The top-down effect of the reintroduction of an apex predator like the wolf on other flora and fauna in an ecosystem is an example of a trophic cascade.

2009 removal from Endangered Species List Edit

Because gray wolf populations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho had recovered sufficiently to meet the goals of the Wolf Recovery Plan, on May 4, 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the status of the gray wolf population known as the Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment from Endangered to Experimental Population-Non Essential. [14]

The wolves in Yellowstone and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem fall within this population. In response to the change in status, state wildlife authorities in Idaho and Montana enacted quota-based hunting seasons on wolves as part of their approved state Wolf Management Plans. Environmental groups objected to the delisting and the hunting seasons, but despite legal attempts to stop them (Defenders of Wildlife et al. v Ken Salazar et al.), the wolf hunts, which commenced in Montana in September 2009 were allowed to proceed. [ citation needed ]

Although wolves within the park boundaries were still fully protected, wolves that ventured outside the boundaries of the park in Idaho or Montana could now be legally hunted. During these hunts, Montana hunters legally killed a number of wolves in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness known to frequent the northeast corner of the park. [ citation needed ]

Hunting opportunities Edit

From 2000–2004, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reduced antlerless permits by 51% from 2,882 to 1,400. They proposed only 100 permits for 2006 which was a 96% decrease from the 2,660 permits issued in 1995. Initially, the effects of wolf predation on elk during the first five years of the recovery were not detected, as elk numbers were identical to those of 1980–1994. From the winter of 1995 to the winter of 2004 however, the elk greatly decreased in number, dropping from 16,791 to 8,335 as the number of wolves on the northern range increased from 21 to 106, though predation from bears, increased human harvests, more severe winter and droughts were also factors. Since 2000, 45% of known deaths and 75% of predation-caused deaths of radio collared cow-elk have been confirmed to be attributable to wolves. Human caused deaths in the same period accounted for 8–30% of known deaths. Yellowstone elk comprise up to 92% of the winter diet of wolves, the overall kill rates of Yellowstone wolves on elk in winter being estimated at 22 ungulates per wolf annually. This is higher than the 12 ungulates per wolf rate predicted in the ESA. [43]


Volcanism at Yellowstone is relatively recent, with calderas that were created during large eruptions that took place 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 630,000 years ago. The calderas lie over the Yellowstone hotspot under the Yellowstone Plateau where light and hot magma (molten rock) from the mantle rises toward the surface. The hotspot appears to move across terrain in the east-northeast direction, and is responsible for the eastern half of Idaho's Snake River Plain, but in fact the hotspot is much deeper than terrain and remains stationary while the North American Plate moves west-southwest over it. [6]

Over the past 18 million years or so, this hotspot has generated a succession of violent eruptions and less violent floods of basaltic lava. Together these eruptions have helped create the eastern part of the Snake River Plain (to the west of Yellowstone) from a once-mountainous region. At least a dozen of these eruptions were so massive that they are classified as supereruptions. Volcanic eruptions sometimes empty their stores of magma so swiftly that the overlying land collapses into the emptied magma chamber, forming a geographic depression called a caldera.

The oldest identified caldera remnant straddles the border near McDermitt, Nevada–Oregon, although there are volcaniclastic piles and arcuate faults that define caldera complexes more than 60 km (37 mi) in diameter in the Carmacks Group of southwest-central Yukon, Canada, which are interpreted to have been formed 70 million years ago by the Yellowstone hotspot. [7] [8] Progressively younger caldera remnants, most grouped in several overlapping volcanic fields, extend from the Nevada–Oregon border through the eastern Snake River Plain and terminate in the Yellowstone Plateau. One such caldera, the Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera in southern Idaho, was formed between 10 and 12 million years ago, and the event dropped ash to a depth of one foot (30 cm) 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away in northeastern Nebraska and killed large herds of rhinoceros, camel, and other animals at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates there are one or two major caldera-forming eruptions and a hundred or so lava extruding eruptions per million years, and "several to many" steam eruptions per century. [9]

The loosely defined term "supervolcano" has been used to describe volcanic fields that produce exceptionally large volcanic eruptions. Thus defined, the Yellowstone Supervolcano is the volcanic field that produced the latest three supereruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot it also produced one additional smaller eruption, thereby creating the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake [10] 174,000 years ago. The three supereruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and approximately 630,000 years ago, forming the Island Park Caldera, the Henry's Fork Caldera, and Yellowstone calderas, respectively. [11] The Island Park Caldera supereruption (2.1 million years ago), which produced the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, was the largest, and produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. The next biggest supereruption formed the Yellowstone Caldera (

630,000 years ago) and produced the Lava Creek Tuff. The Henry's Fork Caldera (1.2 million years ago) produced the smaller Mesa Falls Tuff, but is the only caldera from the Snake River Plain-Yellowstone hotspot that is plainly visible today. [12]

Non-explosive eruptions of lava and less-violent explosive eruptions have occurred in and near the Yellowstone caldera since the last supereruption. [13] [14] The most recent lava flow occurred about 70,000 years ago, while a violent eruption excavated the West Thumb of Lake Yellowstone around 150,000 years ago. Smaller steam explosions occur as well: an explosion 13,800 years ago left a 5 km (3.1 mi) diameter crater at Mary Bay on the edge of Yellowstone Lake (located in the center of the caldera). [15] [3] Currently, volcanic activity is exhibited via numerous geothermal vents scattered throughout the region, including the famous Old Faithful Geyser, plus recorded ground-swelling indicating ongoing inflation of the underlying magma chamber.

The volcanic eruptions, as well as the continuing geothermal activity, are a result of a great plume of magma located below the caldera's surface. The magma in this plume contains gases that are kept dissolved by the immense pressure under which the magma is contained. If the pressure is released to a sufficient degree by some geological shift, then some of the gases bubble out and cause the magma to expand. This can cause a chain reaction. If the expansion results in further relief of pressure, for example, by blowing crust material off the top of the chamber, the result is a very large gas explosion.

According to analysis of earthquake data in 2013, the magma chamber is 80 km (50 mi) long and 20 km (12 mi) wide. It also has 4,000 km 3 (960 cu mi) underground volume, of which 6–8% is filled with molten rock. This is about 2.5 times bigger than scientists had previously imagined it to be however, scientists believe that the proportion of molten rock in the chamber is far too low to allow for another supereruption. [16] [17] [18]

In 2017, research from the Arizona State University indicated prior to Yellowstone's last supereruption, magma surged into the magma chamber in two large influxes. An analysis of crystals from Yellowstone's lava showed that prior to the last supereruption, the magma chamber underwent a rapid increase in temperature and change in composition. The analysis indicated that Yellowstone's magma reservoir can reach eruptive capacity and trigger a supereruption within just decades, not centuries as volcanologists had originally thought. [19] [20]

The source of the Yellowstone hotspot is controversial. Some geoscientists hypothesize that the Yellowstone hotspot is the effect of an interaction between local conditions in the lithosphere and upper mantle convection. [21] [22] Others suggest an origin in the deep mantle (mantle plume). [23] Part of the controversy is the relatively sudden appearance of the hotspot in the geologic record. Additionally, the Columbia Basalt flows appeared at the same approximate time in the same place, causing speculation about their common origin. As the Yellowstone hotspot traveled to the east and north, the Columbia disturbance moved northward and eventually subsided. [24]

An alternate theory to the mantle plume model was proposed in 2018. It is suggested that the volcanism may be caused by upwellings from the lower mantle resulting from water-rich fragments of the Farallon Plate descending from the Cascadia subduction region, sheared off at a subducted spreading rift. [25]

Earthquakes Edit

Volcanic and tectonic actions in the region cause between 1,000 and 2,000 measurable earthquakes annually. Most are relatively minor, measuring a magnitude of 3 or weaker. Occasionally, numerous earthquakes are detected in a relatively short period of time, an event known as an earthquake swarm. In 1985, more than 3,000 earthquakes were measured over a period of several months. More than 70 smaller swarms were detected between 1983 and 2008. The USGS states these swarms are likely caused by slips on pre-existing faults rather than by movements of magma or hydrothermal fluids. [27] [28]

In December 2008, continuing into January 2009, more than 500 quakes were detected under the northwest end of Yellowstone Lake over a seven-day span, with the largest registering a magnitude of 3.9. [29] [30] Another swarm started in January 2010, after the Haiti earthquake and before the Chile earthquake. With 1,620 small earthquakes between January 17, 2010, and February 1, 2010, this swarm was the second-largest ever recorded in the Yellowstone Caldera. The largest of these shocks was a magnitude 3.8 that occurred on January 21, 2010. [28] [31] This swarm reached the background levels by February 21. On March 30, 2014, at 6:34 AM MST, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake struck Yellowstone, the largest recorded there since February 1980. [32] In February 2018, more than 300 earthquakes occurred, with the largest being a magnitude 2.9. [33]

Volcanoes Edit

The last supereruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, the Lava Creek eruption (approximately 640,000 years ago), [34] ejected approximately 1,000 cubic kilometres (240 cu mi) of rock, dust and volcanic ash into the atmosphere. [3]

Geologists are closely monitoring the rise and fall of the Yellowstone Plateau, which has been rising as quickly as 150 millimetres (5.9 in) per year, as an indication of changes in magma chamber pressure. [35] [36] [37]

The upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor between 2004 and 2008—almost 75 millimetres (3.0 in) each year—was more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923. [38] From 2004 to 2008, the land surface within the caldera moved upward as much as 8 inches (20 cm) at the White Lake GPS station. [39] [40] By the end of 2009, the uplift had slowed significantly and appeared to have stopped. [41] In January 2010, the USGS stated that "uplift of the Yellowstone Caldera has slowed significantly" [42] and that uplift continues but at a slower pace. [43] The USGS, University of Utah and National Park Service scientists with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintain that they "see no evidence that another such cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. Recurrence intervals of these events are neither regular nor predictable." [3] This conclusion was reiterated in December 2013 in the aftermath of the publication of a study by University of Utah scientists finding that the "size of the magma body beneath Yellowstone is significantly larger than had been thought". The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory issued a statement on its website stating,

Although fascinating, the new findings do not imply increased geologic hazards at Yellowstone, and certainly do not increase the chances of a 'supereruption' in the near future. Contrary to some media reports, Yellowstone is not 'overdue' for a supereruption. [44]

Other media reports were more hyperbolic in their coverage. [45]

A study published in GSA Today, the monthly news and science magazine of the Geological Society of America, identified three fault zones on which future eruptions are most likely to be centered. [46] Two of those areas are associated with lava flows aged 174,000–70,000 years, and the third is a focus of present-day seismicity. [46]

In 2017, NASA conducted a study to determine the feasibility of preventing the volcano from erupting. The results suggested that cooling the magma chamber by 35 percent would be enough to forestall such an incident. NASA proposed introducing water at high pressure 10 kilometers underground. The circulating water would release heat at the surface, possibly in a way that could be used as a geothermal power source. If enacted, the plan would cost about $3.46 billion. Nevertheless, according to Brian Wilson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a completed project might trigger, instead of prevent, an eruption. [47] [48]

Hydrothermal explosions Edit

Studies and analysis may indicate that the greater hazard comes from hydrothermal activity which occurs independently of volcanic activity. Over 20 large craters have been produced in the past 14,000 years, resulting in such features as Mary Bay, Turbid Lake, and Indian Pond which was created in an eruption about 1300 BC.

In a 2003 report, USGS researchers proposed that an earthquake may have displaced more than 77 million cubic feet (2,200,000 m 3 580,000,000 US gal) of water in Yellowstone Lake, creating colossal waves that unsealed a capped geothermal system and led to the hydrothermal explosion that formed Mary Bay. [49] [50]

Further research shows that very distant earthquakes reach and have effects upon the activities at Yellowstone, such as the 1992 7.3 magnitude Landers earthquake in California’s Mojave Desert that triggered a swarm of quakes from more than 800 miles (1,300 km) away, and the 2002 7.9 magnitude Denali fault earthquake 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away in Alaska that altered the activity of many geysers and hot springs for several months afterward. [51]

In 2016, the USGS announced plans to map the subterranean systems responsible for feeding the area's hydrothermal activity. According to the researchers, these maps could help predict when another supereruption occurs. [52]

Our History

Franklin Robbie founded Yellowstone Boys Ranch in 1956, following several years as a pastor and regional director for Youth for Christ. When he visited the Montana State Industrial School and saw young, juvenile delinquent boys housed with older criminals, he determined an option needed to be created. In June of 1957, the first boy was welcomed at Yellowstone Boys Ranch.

Merle was the glue that helped people work together toward a common goal in the early years. She became a respected mentor to wives of staff and board members. Merle was diagnosed with cancer in 1988 and passed away later that year.

In the fall of 2006, a book written by Franklin, A Legacy of Caring – The First Fifty Years at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, was published to kick off the 50th anniversary celebration. Franklin passed away March 21, 2014, at the age of 96. His heart was as full of hope for the children who are cared for by the staff at Yellowstone.

Bob and Doris McFarlane

Bob had worked at the Wyoming Industrial Institute of Boys for five years when he was asked to be Yellowstone’s first superintendent. Bob and Doris McFarlane brought their family to Billings in 1957 and eventually lived on the campus. Being superintendent included running the farming operations, planting and cultivating harvest, repairing machinery, and managing the staff.

Besides being mother and homemaker to her children, Glenn and Gloria, Mrs. McFarlane did all the cooking for 14 people at each meal. She also kept check on all incoming clothing and issued clothing to all the boys. Then she wrote numerous thank you notes for every contribution.

Doris suffered with a respiratory disease for many years and passed away in 1988. Bob passed away on August 18, 2013 after completing his earthly chores.

Carl and Betty Orth

Carl and Betty Orth moved from Texas in 1957 with their four boys to become the assistant superintendent at Yellowstone. Carl left Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, where he was the superintendent. He joined Yellowstone’s staff, where his workload included being the carpenter, plumber, electrician, and sports coach.

Betty remembers ironing thousands of shirts and mending dozens of pairs of jeans and socks. Betty shared in the duties of running the kitchen and dining room and she shared the vision and passion for Yellowstone Boys Ranch.

A rare form of skin cancer claimed Carl’s life in 1963 at the age of 41. Betty is an active supporter and can still be seen at special events held for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.


The Yellowstone Trail was conceived by Joseph William Parmley of Ipswich, South Dakota. In April 1912, the first step he and his local influential colleagues wanted was a 25-mile-long (40 km) good road from Ipswich over to Aberdeen, also in South Dakota. By May, the intent had expanded to get a transcontinental route built, including to the popular tourist destination to the west, Yellowstone National Park. [2] [3]

The automobile was just becoming popular, but there were few good all weather roads, no useful long distance roads, and no government marked routes. [2] The federal government had not built roads in the 19th century, except for the National Road (aka National Pike) from Washington, D.C. to Vandalia, Illinois. [4] Many states had constitutions that forbade "internal improvements." [3] [5] The Yellowstone Trail developed in parallel with the nationwide effort for internal improvements, which included building and improving roads. Only the Yellowstone Trail, the Lincoln Highway, and the National Old Trails Road were transcontinental in length and notability, out of the 250 named Auto Trails of the era. [3] In the early days of the Yellowstone Trail (generally before the advent of numeric signs and highway designations), the route was identified with yellow bands painted around trees and telephone poles, [6] yellow arrows painted on barns, yellow painted rock piles, and so on.

Events Edit

In June 1915, a timed relay race from Chicago to Seattle was held on the Trail. The 2,445 miles (3,935 km) route was won with a best time of 97 hours. Although no deaths were recorded during the race, accidents did happen. One was in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when one of the competitors, George Murphy, was 'speeding recklessly' at 26 mph (42 km/h) in his Mitchell 6, en route to Menomonie from Chippewa Falls. He skidded when coming downhill around a corner, crashing into a tree. He survived, finishing his relay segment to Menomonie in a backup car. [ citation needed ]

The Yellowstone Trail Association was incorporated in January 1918, with the head office in Minneapolis. It formed state chapters and smaller town chapters to oversee routing in the Midwest and West. Local "routing committee men" went out into their counties to find the best roads available, and talking the county governments into spending tax dollars on that route. They then persuaded small towns on the Trail to join the organization, paying a small fee to be included in the route's publicity materials. [2]

The Yellowstone Trail Association also served information needs of travelers, much as the AAA—American Automobile Association had been doing for drivers in the United States. The Trail Association published maps and brochures, and established information bureaus in popular hotels and in tents along busy sections of the Trail, to hand out these materials. Travelers could telephone the Trail Association before planning a trip to see which roads were passable. The information bureaus also provided local information, much as Convention and Visitors Bureaus were to do in the present day. [2]

As road systems in the United States matured, larger and larger portions of the Yellowstone Trail became the responsibility of governments. For example, in Wisconsin, much of the Yellowstone Trail was designated with State Highway 18 in 1919. State Highway 18 then became U.S. Route 10 through Wisconsin, with the creation of the United States Numbered Highway System in 1926. Changes like these made privately managed road trails like the Yellowstone Trail less relevant. Cities along their routes increasingly stopped paying dues to the Trail Association. [6]

After the Great Depression began in 1929, the Yellowstone Trail and other named Auto Trails lost their allure and affordability. The main Yellowstone Trail Association office was closed on March 15, 1930. Its replacement organization, the Yellowstone Highway Association, operated marginally until around 1939. [2]

Eastern United States Edit

In the Eastern United States, the Yellowstone Trail Association exerted little influence on the road's routes. Instead it functioned primarily as a travel information bureau to entice tourists westward along the Trail. [ citation needed ]

A few streets and roads retain the Yellowstone Trail name in the East, and some former sections remain as unimproved roads. In general, the original Yellowstone Trail garages and route signs are gone, though efforts to revive knowledge of the Trail in some sections of the country have been undergone in the 21st century for tourism reasons. Former sections, some with signage, still exist in travelable condition in Wisconsin, Montana, and Washington. [2]

History on the 6666 Ranch

If the above didn’t give you a strong enough impression of the ranch’s identity, then diving into their history will.

“Four Sixes Ranch is part of the famous Burnett Ranches LLC, which is among the most storied family-run businesses in Texas history,” 6666 says of their ranch. “Founded by Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett in 1870—when he purchased 100 head of cattle wearing the “6666” brand from Frank Crowley of Denton, Texas—Burnett Ranches today encompasses 260,000 acres including the Four Sixes Ranch headquarters, near Guthrie, and the Dixon Creek Ranch, between Panhandle and Borger—both located in the western half of the state.”

For this article’s cover image, actual 6666 cowboys lead cattle during the spring round-up at their ranch. This gives a direct glimpse into the incredible work this ranch accomplishes. In addition, the following expose goes a long way in solidifying Four Sixes amazing legacy:

But is the 'Yellowstone' ranch real?

On the show, the ranch — which is located in Montana and borders Yellowstone National Park (hence the show&aposs name) — is described as "the largest ranch in the U.S."

Plenty of people wonder if Yellowstone is a real, operational ranch, and the answer is yes! It’s called Chief Joseph Ranch, just outside of Darby, Mont. And it’s currently owned by Shane and Angela Libel, who leave the Montana-based ranch during the months when Yellowstone is filming.

The Dutton family house so often showcased in the series is an actual, 5,000-square-foot mansion, built in 1917 as mega-millionaire William Ford’s summer house.

"The studio wanted to have [the home&aposs] location in Utah, where most of the filming was done," shares the Yellowstone location manager Mark Jarrett. "There was a war-room meeting: Do we go up to this ranch or do we Scotch-tape locations together? 

Watch the video: Yellowstone, Tiere im Winter zu Fuss entdecken!