Wildland Development Concepts Wildland Development









History of Human Settlement in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


March 1, 1872:  President Ulysses S. Grant declares Yellowstone the world’s first national park.

1916: President Woodrow Wilson forms The National Park Service.

1929: The eastern boundary and the northwestern corner of the park are enlarged.

1930’s: The Beartooth Highway is built from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City at the northeastern edge of the park.

1932:  Winter habitat is set aside for grazing wildlife in the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone Park.

1950’s: Canyon Village visitor facilities are constructed in the middle of Yellowstone Park.

1970:  Anchorman Chet Huntley develops the Big Sky Resort along the Gallatin River north of Yellowstone.  The exclusive and controversial development is run as a model of “deregulation”.

1976: Yellowstone National Park is designated a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations.

1978: Yellowstone is designated a World Heritage Site.

1983: Greater Yellowstone Coalition formed.  The group works to “conserve and protect the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the full range of its life, now and for future generations”.

1996 Late season storms build huge snowpacks in the mountains around the Yellowstone River valley.  When warm weather arrives, the snow melts quickly and the river overflows its banks, causing a severe, “one hundred year” flood. This leads to many new flood control projects along the Yellowstone.

1997:  A one hundred year flood hits the Yellowstone River for the second time in two years.  The Upper Yellowstone Task Force is formed by Montana governor Marc Racicot to assess the effects of the many new flood control projects along the river.  Members of the task force represent ranchers, anglers, environmentalists, and local property owners, but conservationists contend that property owners are over represented and block scientific research.

1997: Rancher Charles Rahn helps to pass a successful citizen’s petition to create a 66,000-acre zoning district in Park County, Montana, in the hopes of curbing exurban sprawl.

1999: The environmental organization American Rivers adds the entire Yellowstone River watershed to its list of the ten most endangered rivers in the United States.

Click here for a more comprehensive history of Yellowstone Park.