Yellowstone Park Foundation Underwrites $1.4 Million in Projects At Yellowstone National Park

Funding to help improve access to the Norris Geyser Basin has been provided Yellowstone National Park by the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Funding to help fight the lake trout infestation in Yellowstone Lake, educate visitors on the dangers of wildlife, and improve access to the Norris Geyser Basin are among the projects at Yellowstone National Park being made possible through $1.4 million in grants from the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Most notably, the Foundation committed $1 million to help the park launch a comprehensive Native Fish Conservation Program, which is based on a National Park Service plan approved in 2011. The top priority of the program is to take proactive steps to restore the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem by reducing the number of non-native lake trout. Since lake trout prey upon smaller Yellowstone cutthroat trout, this effort will revitalize the native cutthroat population in the Lake and its tributaries.

The Foundation’s $1-million contribution is being matched dollar for dollar by federal funding.

“Yellowstone cutthroat trout represent an important food source for grizzlies, raptors, and other species,” explained Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Their loss could have dramatic consequences for the entire ecosystem. “Funding from the Yellowstone Park Foundation and its supporters will help us maximize our existing resources and opportunities to preserve native cutthroat trout before it’s too late."

Each year, Yellowstone’s superintendent submits proposals to the Foundation for priority projects that are beyond the financial capacity of the National Park Service. In addition to the Native Fish Conservation Program, 2012 grants approved last month by the Foundation’s board of directors include:

* $100,000 for the Wildlife & Visitor Safety Program. This seasonal program helps keep wildlife and visitors safe by managing interactions along Park roads between visitors and bears, wolves, and other animals.

* $50,000 to Restore Historic Roadside Kiosks. Design plans will be developed to restore these stone, timber, and iron structures, providing visitors with new educational opportunities in the future.

* $100,000 for planning and design of the Norris Geyser Basin Access project. This major rehabilitation will help accommodate an increased number of visitors while better protecting fragile hydrothermal features.

* $65,000 for Stock and Tack Replacement to assist the work of Yellowstone rangers. The purchase of new horses, mules, and related equipment will support critical front-country and backcountry operations.

These projects complement several ongoing, multi-year projects supported by the Yellowstone Park Foundation, such as the Fly Fishing Volunteers Program, Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program, Yellowstone Raptor Study, radio collars for the Yellowstone Wolf Project, Sponsor a Bear Box program, and the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps.

Project grants are made possible by tax-deductible contributions to the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation. More than 15,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations donated to the Foundation in the past year.

“Private contributions of all sizes make our work possible, year after year,” said Foundation President Karen Bates Kress. “As we celebrate our 15th anniversary as Yellowstone’s fundraising partner, we are more grateful than ever for the many people who have stepped up to be stewards of Yellowstone.”