Restoring backcountry patrol cabins. Buying GPS units to help with search and rescue missions. Caretaking of the exhibits at the Museum of the National Park Ranger. These are some of the projects the Yellowstone Park Foundation hopes to pay for with its Yellowstone Ranger Fund.
With a goal of raising $2 million for this fund, the foundation already has $400,000 in seed money from lead gifts and pledges.
The money won't go to waste. Roughly 98 percent of Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres is backcountry, a rugged swath of landscape that rangers must patrol on foot, horseback and, in winter, on skis or snowshoes. To patrol this territory, the park employs just 22 backcountry rangers.
According to the foundation, "backcountry encroachment, poaching, resource destruction and theft in the backcountry are chronic problems."
"To fulfill their many responsibilities, rangers need trustworthy equipment, state-of-the-art technology, reliable transportation, and suitable facilities," the foundation adds.
Through the fund, the foundation plans to:
* Restore and outfit patrol cabins with the"equipment, supplies and support" the rangers need to protect resources and backcountry travelers;
* Improve safety systems on the park's roads and purchased GPS units and other equipment for search and rescue operations, and buy a patrol boat for Lewis Lake;
* Provide for a stock barn for rider and stock training, storage space for saddles and tack, and space for veterinary supplies for the more than 100 head of horses and mules used by the rangers, and;
* Provide for "proper restoration and curation of exhibits" at the Museum of the National Park Ranger that's located at Norris.
To contribute to this fund drive, you can donate on-line.