Monday, December 12, 2016

Yellowstone Park under pressure from crowds, budget

Yellowstone, the country’s oldest national park, is being discovered by more people than ever. As the park’s visitation continues to grow, so does the list of maintenance that needs to be done. The park is coming off two years of record-high visitation and Superintendent Dan Wenk does not believe the flood of interest has peaked. It’s the superintendent’s job to assure that Yellowstone isn’t loved to death and doesn’t fall apart. Yellowstone received a record 4,097,711 visitors in 2015 – fueled by more than 225 tons of ice cream sold in the park. The annual visitation record was surpassed in October this year when it hit 4,221,782. Yellowstone opened in 1872 and is the country’s oldest national park. The records summer of 2015 caused overcrowding from road to bathrooms and prompted lots of complaints from the public...But while offering a long list of the park’s assets, he presents an equally long list of work that’s waiting in the shadows to be done when time and money is available. Yellowstone covers more than 2.2 million acres, an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, and is the core for a nearly-intact ecosystem of 18 million acres. The park has $3.5 billion in facilities, including 475 miles of paved and unpaved roads, more than 900 historic buildings, 2,400 lodging rooms, 2,300 front country campsites and 300 backcountry campsites. The park is operated by more than 4,000 employees of both the National Park Service and the concessionaire. Thirst and nature’s call are answered by 23 water treatment and waste water treatment facilities with eight major plants treating more than 300 million gallons of water and wastewater loaded with 4,000 tons of solid waste a year...more

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