Yellowstone National Park Officials Looking To Improve Visitors' Experience In "Cascade Corner"

Yellowstone National Park officials are discussing ways to improve living conditions and the visitor experience at the Bechler River ranger station. NPS photo of the Bechler River Soldier Station.

"Cascade corner," which draws its name from the many waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park's southwest corner, long has been a rather overlooked area of the park. But with more and more visitors taking notice and heading there, park officials are looking into ways to improve their visits.

Specifically, the park is looking into ways to improve the administrative area of the Bechler region, which is accessed by car through Ashton, Idaho.

The Bechler River Administrative Area is a collection of buildings located in a clearing approximately 300 feet southwest of Wyoming Creek, in the southwest corner of YNP. The primary structures are a quarters building, housing trailer, and wood shed at the north edge of the clearing; a shop building and fire cache, a generator building, and an office at the west edge; and a barn with accompanying corrals at the south and east edges. Various other structures, such as a hose house, propane tanks, and trailhead markers are also placed around the clearing along the north edge.

Bechler was originally developed as an outpost to house U.S. Army soldiers tasked with patrolling for poachers in this remote area of the park. The region's rich wildlife, scenery and backcountry waterfall destinations have grown in popularity in recent years, prompting the Park Service to look at ways to help improve visitor experience and park operations by analyzing the impacts of day use and overnight parking, traffic circulation, employee housing, telecommunication functions and other infrastructure requirements.

The Bechler Administrative Area consists of two historic districts; Bechler is considered a discontiguous unit of the Fort Yellowstone Landmark District, and the Bechler River Soldier Station Historic District. The Fort Yellowstone Landmark District consists of the Bechler River Soldier Station and the Bechler Horse Barn. The Bechler River Soldier Station Historic District boundary includes the Bechler River Soldier Station and the Bechler Horse Barn as well as the visitor contact station and office building.

Among the items under consideration are plans to rehabilitate the the soldier station to accommodate two employees or one family; relocate parking areas used by visitors away from the historic buildings and expand them; improve pathways, structures, and other facilities to make them ADA accessible; upgraded utility lines, and; a shade shelter for stock.

More details can be gleaned by reading the entire proposal at this site.

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, the plan also analyzes the impact on a variety of park resources including geology and soils, vegetation and rare plants, wildlife, special status wildlife species and Yellowstone species of management concern, soundscape management and historic structures. This project has also been developed in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and other applicable laws, regulations, and policies.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) and an electronic form to submit comments can be found at this site. A hard copy can also be requested by calling (307) 344-7147, or by writing to Compliance Office, Attention: Bechler Administrative Area Improvement Plan/EA, National Park Service, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments through the PEPC website. Comments may also be mailed to the address above or hand-delivered during normal business hours to the mailroom in the park's Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.

Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any manner other than those specified above. Bulk comments submitted in any format on behalf of others will not be accepted. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, May 5, 2013.

Comments

Apparently the solution for every problem is to build things. We can build things in the developed parts of the park, let's not do that in the remote corners.

By all means update the existing facilities in the existing footprint, though.