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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.