These are well-documented, and explained, instances of people behavingly badly in our nation's first national park, Yellowstone. The bit that I most e...moreThese are well-documented, and explained, instances of people behavingly badly in our nation's first national park, Yellowstone. The bit that I most enjoy, of course, is the underlying fact that we (the nation) established Yellowstone as a park in 1879 precisely because of its wilderness characteristics, yet we seem utterly oblivious to the fact that things that are wild can kill you if you do not take appropriate precautions. If you do take the appropriate measures, the whole point is to enjoy those few intact (or mostly intact) ecosystems where things have not been "sanitized for your protection." The moral of this story, however, is that when you take your children into the wilderness, you are not dropping them at the mall to entertain themselves. There are geothermals, antisocial grizzlies, territorial wolves, unstable slopes, poisonous gasses bubbling up from geothermal features, and testy 2,000 lb. bison with a very small brain at their pointy ends. This should definitely be required reading of all park visitors and, possibly, required (re)reading of park employees. In closing I should note that the book is written in a very respectful fashion. These are descriptive accounts, but the author (park historian Lee Whittlesey) never once forgets that the demise of someone's loved one, child, pet (leave your pets at home!!), parent, and/or spouse is being recounted. Death in Yellowstone also describes parts of the park and its neighboring towns (esp. the cemeteries) that I'd really like to check out when I go next. It's a good read, although not one I'd recommend reading in a single sitting, given its subject matter.(less)
Am just back from a week-long program at Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the U.S., established in 1872. I had marked this childr...moreAm just back from a week-long program at Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the U.S., established in 1872. I had marked this children's book as a "to-read" item before heading west, came across it in one of the numerous park bookstores/gift shops, purchased it and loved it. The book walks its readers through the identification of both scat (i.e., poop) and tracks for 10 signature species found in and--as I learned this week--beyond Yellowstone. The 10 animals discussed are: grizzly bear, rabbit, mule deer, elk, horse, moose, bison, gray wolf, mountain lion, and badger. Of course there are many many more animals to be enjoyed in the varied environments comprising the park, so this just scratches the proverbial surface.
The story is simple, so as to be readily understood and related to by kids of a young age (I'd estimate anywhere from 6 years of age on up). It tells the story of a typical white family with one son and one daughter visiting the park. The kids have heard about the assorted wildlife attractions and the son is actually frightened of the grizzly bear. Within that context, their parents alleviate some of the fear by showing that you can "see" animals without actually having to encounter them first-hand. Select pages are complemented by box text identified as "The Straight Poop," and they relate the scat and tracks to larger wildlife issues within the park unit (e.g., the 1995 restoration of gray wolves to the ecosystem). At the very back of the book are two pages that succinctly sum up all the information learned and could make a nice family reference to stuff into a backpack as you head off into the back country or one of the shorter trails near any of the major nodes within the park.
To be sure, the story focuses on Yellowstone. It gives information, however, that can be taken well beyond the realm of the Yellowstone context. In my estimation, the book's greatest strength is in showing kids--and the adults who hang with them--how to begin to more thoughtfully see animals in the world around them. It will pique peoples' curiousity and, hopefully, their respect for our pawed and hooved co-residents. The book is truly a "keeper"--hence the five stars. (less)
I finished this book sitting in a hotel room in Bozeman, MT, on my way to Yellowstone National Park, having made it more than halfway through this boo...moreI finished this book sitting in a hotel room in Bozeman, MT, on my way to Yellowstone National Park, having made it more than halfway through this book in just a few hours while traveling through assorted airports making my way west. Long story short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is super well written, and relays the complex, compelling, and controversy-rich early story of restoration of three wolf packs to Yellowstone National Park early in 1995 after their human-directed extermination from this environment in the early 20h century. The fact that while still in their holding pens, as part of something referred to as a "soft release," the animals nearly died due to politics was a common theme and the reader quickly learns that the ultimate fate of the gray wolf in the northern Rockies is anything but certain.
McNamee writes in an admirably objective fashion regarding this highly controversial--and complicated--undertaking. He is up front with his readers that he was a former president of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a decidedly pro-wolf partner in advocating in favor of restoring gray wolves to this park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The book was published in 1997, and provides a fascinating window into what remains a flashpoint issue (although perhaps surpassed by ranchers' and wildlife managers' fears of tranmission of brucellosis from bison and elk crossing park boundaries and potentially infecting cattle on surrounding properties). I found it a wonderful introductory read to beginning to ask (and research answers to) important questions about how wildlife conservation and management is carried out in the public interest (i.e., in our name and with us footing the bill).
With this as a foundation, interested readers can quickly move on to more recent publications by Doug Smith (director of the National Park Service's ongoing Wolf Project), in Yellowstone Science, and in many other places.(less)
This is the happier version (or possibly the antidote to?) of Death in the Park. This book tells the tale of evolving NPS strategies and policies rega...moreThis is the happier version (or possibly the antidote to?) of Death in the Park. This book tells the tale of evolving NPS strategies and policies regarding visitor-wildlife interaction at Yellowstone National Park. If I may editorialize, this is an easy preparative read that families could read and discuss prior to visiting any area where they are likely to interact with wild animals. With the best of intentions, picnickers regularly share food with ground squirrels and other cute, gregarious animals without ever considering the goiters or other things to which these dietary additions contribute--ultimately, and surprisingly quickly, contributing to the death of the animal. That said, the book is about animals more than it is about Yellowstone, and I recommend it as a readily-accessible introduction into how to be a better sharer of our planet.
Having recently returned from Yellowstone and personally witnessed countless instances of potentially-fatal visitor stupidity, I can attest to the fact that many park visitors seem to check their brains at the entry gate. Admittedly, we've come a long way since the 1950s and 1960s when visitors were permitted to feed wildlife (esp. those adorable bear cubs) from the self-deluded safety of the family station wagon. As a consequence, animals were habituated to human presence and came into campsites, dumpsites, etc. for a handout. With time, this quickly led to the "removal" (a euphemism for destruction by shooting) of many bears annually. As stated eloquently by Mike Leach, executive director of an up-and-coming consensus-seeking, non-profit known as Yellowstone Country Guardians, "A fed animal is a dead animal." Check this book out, it just might possibly save lives. Ours and the animals'. (less)
I started this while traveling, ironically, home from Yellowstone. I thoroughly recommend the fourth edition, published in 2001, which benefits from t...moreI started this while traveling, ironically, home from Yellowstone. I thoroughly recommend the fourth edition, published in 2001, which benefits from the writer's insights into changes in environmental policy and the changing perceptions of wilderness and wildness since the first appearance of this book in 1967. In other words, this is a marvelous historiography of American society and its evolving notion of wilderness. While pretty dense, and a bit intimidating for recreational reading (i.e., small font, many footnotes on each page, and a detailed bibliograpny at the end), the book is beautifully written. In my estimation, it's just as relevant in 2010 as it was in the early, heady days of the U.S. environmental movement. (less)
For cultural or natural resource managers, an admittedly small subset of our population, this is a really interesting look at the National Park Servic...moreFor cultural or natural resource managers, an admittedly small subset of our population, this is a really interesting look at the National Park Service's evolving policy of treating wildfires since their (NPS') inception in 1916. There's an entire chapter on Yellowstone, which suffered its most devastating fires yet in 1988. Having recently visited that park, I can attest to the fact that you can literally still see its effects. For anyone interested in NPS management and administrative history and/or the changing face of wildlife and natural resource management, this is a must-read. For anyone else, check out other entries in the categories ticked here or go to the mysteries and/or fiction offerings.(less)
I selected this book for its breadth of scope. That is, it develops case studies from around the U.S., addresses indigenous values in addition to gove...moreI selected this book for its breadth of scope. That is, it develops case studies from around the U.S., addresses indigenous values in addition to government-imposed (i.e., top-down) strategies, has a section devoted entirely to Yellowstone, and even delves into international perspectives and approaches to wilderness and conservation. Can't wait to dive into it, and am confident I'll find useful teaching resources here.(less)
I was intrigued after meeting a representative of the Buffalo Field Campaign while at Yellowstone last summer, and picked this book up shortly after m...moreI was intrigued after meeting a representative of the Buffalo Field Campaign while at Yellowstone last summer, and picked this book up shortly after my return home. It is an amazingly even-handed look at a complex flashbutton issue. I must say that Mary Ann Franke does a superb job of presenting a lot of information in quite digestible chunks, that she breaks the debates down into comprehensible bits and is especially gifted at establishing the interrelations between the discrete threads. Anyone interested in the history of our national parks, the environmental movement, wildlife management, cultural and/or natural resources and, of course, wilderness will benefit from reading To Save the Wild Bison: Life onthe Edge in Yellowstone. While not a super fast read, it is well worth the investment in time.(less)