Actors Involved in Human Settlement
in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
The National Park Service (Department of the Interior)
was established in 1916 to manage national parks and monuments. Required by the Organic Act to "conserve
the scenery and natural and historic objects and the wildlife
therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner
and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment
of future generations."
If development occurs inside the Parks, for housing,
restrooms or roads, Environmental Assessments (EA) must be done
and publicly reviewed before the work may occur. Yellowstone National Park also
has a Park employee responsible for dealing with “external threats”
to the Park, which would include urban development, but also mining,
timber, or recreation that impacts the Park or the wildlife therein. The Grand Teton National Park as
Forest Service (Department of Agriculture):
operates the national forests under several multiple-use policies,
which are to be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber,
watershed and wildlife and fish purposes.
Hard-rock mining and mineral leasing all occur on national
urban developments, the Forest Service takes part in land ownership
exchanges. These are usually done to consolidate Forest Service
Lands, such as the Gallatin I and Galatin II land exchanges on
the Gallatin National
Forest. However, some
land exchanges are more controversial such as the one currently
raging with the Grand Targhee Resort (see this group below for
an article on the controversy).
between the National Park Service and the Forest Service.
Forests by State. Surrounding
Yellowstone are: (MT) Gallatin, Beaverhead, and Custer; (ID) Targhee
and Caribou; (WY) Shoshone and Bridger-Teton.
Fish and Wildlife Service
(Department of the Interior): est. in 1871, and follows the
1956 Fish and Wildlife Act, and the National Wildlife Refuge Systems
Administration of 1966. They are the lead in the Endangered Species Act, and manage wildlife
refuges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission is working
with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. This group is not directly relevant to urban development,
as their jurisdiction does not entail local decisions of land
use, however, the local cities and counties must comply with ESA
regulations if an animal or plant is federally listed. This may prevent development if a T&E species
becomes known in the area of a development site of any kind.
Refuges in the Greater Yellowstone
Ecosystem: (MT) Red Rocks
Lake Wildlife Refuge, (ID) Grays Lake Wildlife Refuge, and (WY)
National Elk Refuge
of the FWS Mountain-Prairie
Region (8 states including MT and WY).
of Land Management (BLM) (Department of the Interior):
est. in 1946 and guided by the Federal Land Policy and Management
Act of 1976. It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management
to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public
lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. They are involved in land ownership records,
mineral and grazing permits, land-use planning and assessment,
recreation, public health and safety, and more.
Regarding urban development, they acquire easements or
donations for conservation, road access, trails and improvements. But they do land exchanges, and occasionally sell land as well.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: They are currently in heated debates with residents of Montana over
flooding on the Yellowstone River.
People are riprapping their banks, and the Army Corps is
telling them to take them out (after the Army Corps already approved
them). There are a lot of property issues involved
with letting a river naturally flood – some people lose land,
of Montana Website: You can access economic, housing,
and census information here.
Also, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
manage game (hunting, fishing, trapping) and nongame fish and
wildlife, and recreation opportunities. They have the "Partners
for Wildlife" program as a way that Montana's landowners
can improve their private land resources by working together to
ensure that there will be fish and wildlife to enjoy in the future.
It is about conservation
easements: there are state, federal, and private easement
info at this site.
State of Wyoming
Website: among economic and other information, they discuss Governor
Jim Geringer’s Open
Space conservation plan.
The Governor hosted a conference
on conserving open lands and published a guide to help landowners
and government officials who wish to voluntarily engage in these
conservation methods. Methods
for landowners include conservation easements, purchase or lease
of development rights, and limited development.
Methods for government officials include zoning, impact
fees, and subdivision regulations. See the policy section or their website for
more detailed information.
State of Idaho
website contains every kind of information about the state, including
about natural resources.
One example of their efforts to develop management plans
to contain sprawl while encourage healthy town development, while
conserving natural and cultural resources in the Sawtooth Scenic
SURROUNDING THE PARK
general information, businesses, and recreation.
Teton County WY: general information, businesses,
Gallatin County MT: county
statistical reports on population, education, jobs, and agriculture. All Montana counties are listed from that website.
MT: news story about approving a huge subdivision near Belgrade
Country Independent Press.
no working website yet. See
county index list for general information about Idaho Counties.
Fremont County ID: This rural county's economy is based mostly on agriculture and recreation
or tourism. The population of Fremont County is about 11,594,
according to the 1996 Census. The county occupies 1,877 square
miles or about 1,201,300 acres. Public lands predominate. Only
31.9 percent (599 square miles) of the county's land is in private
ownership. About 821 square miles (43.7 percent of the total area)
in the northern and eastern portions of the county are in the
Targhee National Forest. Another 220 square miles (11.8 percent
of the total area), mostly in the western part of the county,
is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The state of
Idaho manages about 175 square miles in parcels scattered throughout
the county. See below, the Grand Targhee Resort has a controversial land swap
deal with the Forest Service.
Residents do not want the Forest Service lands being developed
into a ski resort.
are 3 cities within 5 miles of a Park entrance, and 13 more within
200 miles. These communities
are dependent to a large extent on natural resource activities
such as tourism, hunting and fishing, and natural resource extraction
for their economy. Gardiner Montana is located at the North entrance
to the Park, which is the only year-round entrance to Yellowstone.
LAND AND BUSINESS OWNERS
Grand Targhee Resort:
current development issue over acquiring FS lands to develop their
ski resort. From the Article
on the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) website:
“Targhee National Forest intends to give the
Grand Targhee Resort public land at the base of the popular Grand
Targhee ski hill--land worth tens of millions of dollars--for
a paltry $13,820 per acre, according to a draft planning document
recently released for public review. The Forest Service's preferred
alternative, as outlined in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement
(DEIS), would trade up to 195 acres at the ski area for some 385
acres at Squirrel Meadows.”
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
on the FS-Resort land swap.
and Triumphant: The CUT group arrived in Montana in 1986,
and purchased tens of thousands of acres for a secluded retreat
for thousands of people. From the CUT website: “The international
headquarters moved in 1986 to a 28,000-acre Royal Teton Ranch
just north of Yellowstone Park in Montana. In addition to its
publishing work and ongoing religious activities, the church is
actively involved in organic farming, ranching, and in building
a self-sufficient spiritual community.”
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the leader of the group, brought
her followers to this wildland to await the coming of the apocalypse.
The sect segregated themselves from the rest of the surrounding
landowners, built underground shelters and stockpiled them with
food and an arsenal of weapons.
They build a small town on their property, with farms and
ranches, and also obtained a license for geothermal drilling.
Since their lands were some of the most important over-wintering
bison and elk lands outside of the park to the North, Montana
Game biologists routinely slaughtered hundreds of bison as they
trespassed onto CUT lands to prevent interactions with cattle.
Also, there was an environmental spill on their property
as a result of their development of the shelters that polluted
to say, they were not liked very much by the nearby townspeople,
and vandalism and other random acts of violence were common. However, when the end-of-the-world that Prophet
predicted did not come to pass, and she fell ill, the sect started
to crumble. Her children
had left, as did others, complaining of brainwashing.
Her husband had divorced her, and the Church was in serious
financial trouble. A new
leader took over in 1991 with a new goal: to live for the future.
In September of 1999, they sold 7,800 acres of bison wintering
lands to the Forest Service, they never developed the large town
they had planned, and they started mingling with the local townsfolk. An article on Land Easement of CUT property,
from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
ranchers and farmers: A farmer or rancher has no retirement
pension. Any long-term security lies solely in the equity of the
operation and the ability to sell or transfer agricultural lands.
Historically, that has meant passing the property to the next
generation. Now, it may mean conservation easements or subdivisions.
In any case, they are difficult, personal and complex decisions.
Many are faced with selling their property due to high
property taxes, no heir to take over a farm, or illness that changes
their ability to farm or ranch. However, landowners also are key to many wildlife
wintering ranges, and recreational activities. Fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and other activities
occur on private property, or landowners allow access through
their lands to forest service or park lands.
In many states, the government wants to help these landowners
with these difficult decisions, so they encourage easements and
other voluntary conservation methods whenever possible.
See state listings for such activities.
Rushmore Homes: real estate developer in Wyoming,
Montana and North Dakota.
Real Estate and Development.
Ranch Development (Park County, MT): Article on
the debate over the development of the new community.
Montana Land Reliance: Founded 1978. As a statewide land trust the Montana Land
Reliance (MLR) is dedicated to the conservation and preservation
of ecologically unique private land including agricultural land,
watersheds, riparian areas, wetlands and scenic open spaces. A
growing portfolio of conservation easements protect and conserve
over 405,000 acres of private land throughout Montana.
From their website: “MLR
has focused on the conservation of private lands in the Montana
portion of the GYE. Our efforts have provided lasting protection
for 150,297 total acres; 9,210 of these acres were protected in
Greater Yellowstone Coalition: "People working to protect
America’s first national park and the lands that surround it."
This website gives information and articles on many topics, including
urban sprawl, recreation, and oil and gas development.
Jackson Hole Land Trust, Nature Conservancy, and Rocky Mountain
Elk Foundation use Conservation Easements to preserve lands.
The Sonoran Institute out of AZ works to preserve working
University of Wyoming is taking part in several areas of
land use research and management.
Their Spatial Data and Visualization Center, in partnership
with Wyoming Open Lands, is developing a unique application of
GIS that is being used in private landowner collaborations. This
practical and basic use of GIS allows landowners to map their
various interests in protection of open space on their own land,
as well as on neighbors' lands within their subdivision or watershed.
Through this mapping process, private landowners are allowed to
confidentially identify their interests and concerns. The landowners
can then see, through layering all of the mapped landowner input,
the potential for cooperative agreements with physical reference
to their property.
Community Toolbox prepared by the Institute
for Environment and Natural Resources at the University of
Wyoming, to provide communities with knowledge and resources to
support the development of strategic plans for managing sustainable
growth and development.
Montana State University is doing interdisciplinary
research studying songbirds
and urban development (Jay Rotella and Andrew Hansen) and causes
and consequences of land
cover change in the GYE.
USERS OF PUBLIC LANDS
place inside and outside the park are a variety of activities
such as horseback riding, backpacking, snowmobiling, hunting and
fishing, car touring, wildlife watching, photographing and painting,
and many others.