Yellowstone flooding rebuild could take years, cost billions

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Created in 1872 as the United States was recovering from the Civil War, Yellowstone was the first of the national parks that came to be referred to as America’s best idea. Now, the home to gushing geysers, thundering waterfalls and some of the country’s most plentiful and diverse wildlife is facing its biggest challenge in decades.

Floodwaters this week wiped out numerous bridges, washed out miles of roads and closed the park as it approached peak tourist season during its 150th anniversary celebration. Nearby communities were swamped and hundreds of homes flooded as the Yellowstone River and its tributaries raged.

The scope of the damage is still being tallied by Yellowstone officials, but based on other national park disasters, it could take years and cost upwards of $1 billion to rebuild in an environmentally sensitive landscape where construction season only runs from the spring thaw until the first snowfall.

Based on what park officials have revealed and Associated Press images and video taken from a helicopter, the greatest damage seemed to be to roads, particularly on the highway connecting the park’s north entrance in Gardiner, Montana, to the park’s offices in Mammoth Hot Springs. Large sections of the road were undercut and washed away as the Gardner River jumped its banks. Perhaps hundreds of footbridges on trails may have been damaged or destroyed.

Native American tribes to co-manage national monument for first time

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Biden administration has reached a historic agreement to give five Native American tribes more say over the day-to-day management of a national monument in Utah, marking a new chapter in the federal government’s often-fraught relationship with tribes.

The federal government is planning to phase out single-use plastics at national parks

Read the full story from NPR.

The U.S. Interior Department, which helps oversee the country’s national parks, says it is planning to phase out single-use plastics on its land and facilities by 2032.

The agency would be tasked with finding alternative materials to disposable plastics, such as cutlery, bags, cups, bottles, straws and food containers, it announced Tuesday in honor of World Ocean Day.

Suggested alternatives include paper, bioplastics, composite, reusable cloth, glass, aluminum, stainless steel, or any other compostable or recyclable materials.

Oldest active National Park ranger retires at 100

Read the full story at The Hill.

The National Park Service’s (NPS) oldest active ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, retired Friday at the age of 100. 

“Betty has made a profound impact on the National Park Service and the way we carry out our mission,” NPS Director Chuck Sams said in a press release. “I am grateful for her lifelong dedication to sharing her story and wish her all the best in retirement. 

Soskin, who turned 100 in September 2021, originally lived with her Cajun-Creole, African American family in New Orleans until the area was hit by the “Great Flood” in 1927, at which time her family relocated to Oakland, Calif.  

The Western megadrought is revealing America’s ‘lost national park’

Read the full story from NPR.

Despite recent rain and record snowfall in California’s Sierra Nevada, the Western U.S. is experiencing one of its driest periods in a thousand years — a two-decade megadrought that scientists say is being amplified by human-caused climate change. The drought — or longer-term aridification, some researchers fear — is forcing water cutbacks in at least three states and is reviving old debates about how water should be distributed and used in the arid West.

At Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, record-low water levels are transforming the landscape, renewing a long-standing dispute over the land the reservoir drowned — a canyon labyrinth that novelist Edward Abbey once described as “a portion of earth’s original paradise.” For half a century, environmental groups and Colorado River enthusiasts have implored water managers to restore Glen Canyon by draining the reservoir.

US national parks to offer look into green-friendly transit

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Americans may soon get a better glimpse into a future of green-friendly transportation by visiting a U.S. national park.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg signed a joint pledge Wednesday to test some of the newest and most innovative travel technologies on public lands and improve visitors’ tourism experience.

‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ is only her latest chapter

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Betty Reid Soskin has fought to ensure that American history includes the stories that get overlooked. As she turns 100, few stories have been more remarkable than hers.