Sequestration. Budget cuts. Tough times for America’s most cherished places – its national parks. For Yellowstone National Park, a bit of relief from the fiscal hard times is coming from the Yellowstone Park Foundation, which is underwriting $600,000 worth of projects in the park this year.
As with most park friends’ groups, YPF’s mission and agreement with the National Park Service is to provide funding for specific projects that are above and beyond the daily operations of Yellowstone National Park.
YPF has two grant cycles per year – the first in the spring and the second in the fall. These grants were made in response to the Foundation’s fall 2012 request for proposals, where the park submitted suggested projects to YPF’s board of directors for funding. Grant decisions were made prior to sequestration, but now are timely.
“Now more than ever in these difficult and uncertain times, YPF is especially grateful to our generous donors for making this funding possible,” said Yellowstone Park Foundation President Karen Kress. “Our fundraising efforts for the park are even more necessary because projects like these might otherwise go by the wayside in light of current budget cuts.”
“These grants from the Yellowstone Park Foundation will help us maximize our resources that are even more limited than before sequestration, so that these important projects can move forward,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk.
The 12 projects funded by the Yellowstone Park Foundation for the spring 2013 grant cycle include:
* Slough Creek Native Trout Project $100,000
Slough Creek, a stronghold for cutthroat trout, has recently been invaded by rainbow trout. This project will identify the invasion source, and design a solution for mitigation.
* Yellowstone Raptor Initiative $85,000
Funding for the third year of this five-year project will allow researchers to study inadequately monitored raptors that nest in or use Yellowstone.
* Wildlife and Visitor Safety Program $75,000
Supports additional seasonal rangers needed to maintain public safety and provide essential education.
* Wildlife Health Program $ 50,000
Will integrate disease surveillance and interventions that preserve wildlife health, and reduce disease risks to visitors and park staff.
* Solar Energy Upgrades at Buffalo Ranch in Lamar $45,000
Valley Upgrades will replace ineffective, aging equipment for this small development that does not have commercial power and has partially relied on the sun for electricity since 1996.
* Prevent Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program $40,000
Funding AIS for inspection, education and purchase of cleaning equipment to keep AIS out of Yellowstone’s pristine waterways.
* Removal of Illegal Trails in the Bechler Region $40,000
Two substantial illegal trails impacting the Bechler back-country will be removed to discourage continued travel via these routes.
* Snake River Archeology Project $40,000
Research to be conducted of this largely unstudied corridor containing intact archeological strata used by native peoples for the past 12,000 years.
* Scientists Symposium for Old Faithful $35,000
A scientist’s review panel will advise the park on existing knowledge of the hydrothermal system, impacts of past and existing development on the system, and best management options for the future at Old Faithful.
* Remote Sensors for Boundary Enforcement $30,000
YPF funding is making possible a pilot program that uses remote sensing equipment in the backcountry to help deter boundary violations and wildlife poaching.
* Development of a Distance Learning Studio $30,000
Equipment and space for live webcast programs between park rangers and classrooms across the U.S. that want interactive programs for their students.
* Scientific Research on Brown Bats $30,000
Around 6.7 million bats have died as a result of White-Nose Syndrome in the U.S. as of January 2012. This grant extends 2012 studies to keep bats healthy, and address climate change effects and other stressors. YPF funds will complete a two-year study to determine habitat, activity and their beneficial role in the ecosystem.
The Yellowstone Park Foundation has more than 16,000 individuals, corporations and foundations that donate to YPF each year, and has served as YNP’s official fundraising partner since 1996. Its mission is to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, and the visitor experience of the Park.
YPF has raised more than $70 million, and funded more than 250 important projects and initiatives since its inception that include wildlife research, cutthroat trout restoration, trail maintenance, and youth education.