Environmental Studies and American West

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Protecting Yellowstone: Science and the Politics of National Park Management

Michael J. Yochim

Yellowstone National Park looks like a pristine western landscape populated by wild bison, grizzly bears, and wolves. But the bison do not always range freely, snowmobile noise intrudes upon the park’s winter silence, and some tourist villages are located in prime grizzly bear habitat. These and other issues—including fires and the New World Mine—were the center of a policy-making controversy involving federal politicians and interested stakeholders. Yet outcomes of the controversies varied considerably, depending on politics, science, how well park managers allied themselves with external interests, and public thinking about the effects of park proposals on their access and economies. In Protecting Yellowstone Michael J. Yochim examines the primary influences upon contemporary national park policy making and considers how those influences shaped or constrained the final policy. In addition, Yochim considers how park managers may best work within the contemporary policy-making context to preserve national parks.


Michael J. Yochim has worked as a National Park Service planner at Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. He is also the author of Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns over National Park Use.


"Few people are better situated than Mike Yochim to relate these significant episodes in policy formation from Yellowstone's recent history. These are fascinating stories, told in a compelling manner."


James Pritchard, author of Preserving Yellowstone's Natural Conditions: Science and the Perception of Nature

"Yellowstone is a wonderful place but as this compelling book describes, it's hardly perfect. Yochim has the analytical skills to understand the park's problems, the writing ability to explain them, and the ground-level experience to feel them. If you care about protecting Yellowstone and our other national treasures, you should read this book."


William R. Lowry, author of Repairing Paradise: The Restoration of Nature in America's National Parks

"If you hope to think intelligently about the complex political, social, and scientific realities of caring for Yellowstone National Park, you need to read this book."


Paul Schullery, author of Mountain Time and Searching for Yellowstone

“Yochim’s copiously detailed assessment of the role of science in wildlife restoration, habitat renewal, and snowmobile and other winter-use activities in Yellowstone could not be timelier. Yochim provides a trenchant analysis of the intricacies of National Park Service decision making.”



“A convincing, useful framework for examining controversial issues of national park management.”


Montana The Magazine of Western History

6 x 9 in. 280 pages 29 halftones, 8 maps, 1 table