State of Conservation
Yellowstone National Park
(United States of America)
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
- Forestry /wood production
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
- Invasive / alien freshwater species
- Oil and gas
- Renewable energy facilities
- Surface water pollution
- Other Threats:
Infection threat to bison population
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Geothermal development and other subsurface drillings,
- Grizzli bears mortalities and habitat loss due to timber harvesting, oil and gas development, road and home building, mining,
- Lake trout invasion is a threat to indigenous cutthroat trout and other species,
- Bison and elk threatened due to proposals to try and eridacate disease from them,
- Heavy metals and acid pollution from abandoned mining tailings,
- Increased visitor use,
- Water related concerns due to a proposed New World mine (issue resolved).
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.15
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau - paragraph IV.15
New information: IUCN informed the Centre that the Park Service will phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone over the next three years. The plan has been developed following years of research showing that the vehicles cause excessive pollution, placing Park visitors, employees, and wildlife at risk, as well as overwhelming the Park’s attractions with noise. Eventually snow-coaches will be the only motorised winter access to the Park over snow. The gradual phase out of snowmobiles is intended to allow local businesses that depend heavily on snowmobile tourism to increase the number of snow-coaches and adjust to the Park Service’s decision.
Action RequiredThe Bureau commends the State Party for its decision to phase out snowmobiles from this site. The Bureau invites the State Party to co-operate with IUCN and the Centre to follow up on the recommendation of the twenty-fifth session of the Committee to put in place a schedule of actions to track improvements in the state of conservation of the site and for determining the appropriate time for its removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001
Tourism regulation; control of wildlife infection and transmission to domestic stock; and invasive species eradication and control. Elaboration of monitoring plan with benchmarks and indicators that can guide Committee decisions on removal of site from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
New information: IUCN welcomes the variety of initiatives the State Party has undertaken to strengthen conservation of the site. The efforts of the State Party, IUCN and the Centre to plan meetings and communications to discuss and develop plans of action for the two sites that could include benchmarks and conditions for the possible removal of the sites from the List of World Heritage in Danger have unfortunately been affected by events that took place in the United States in September 2001 and the consequent global impacts. The Centre and IUCN will continue to pursue their efforts in this regard in consultation with the State Party and provide progress achieved at the time of the Committee session.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
Yellowstone National Park (USA)
V.62 The Bureau learnt that the State Party has provided a detailed report on the state of conservation of Yellowstone; the salient features of the report are:
- Although the New World Mine had been acquired from its owner, i.e. Crown Butte Mines, for US$ 65 million and hence will not be developed, clean-up of old mining waste rock and tailings left over from 100 years of mining activity is critical to the ecological health of the Park; the US Forest Service has began remedial measures to mitigate the effects of historic mining in 2001;
- Concerned Federal and State of Montana agencies have reached agreement in December 2000 on the long-term management of bison and have signed their respective Records of Decision. The Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture signed the Federal Record of Decision on 20 December 2000. The long-term plan for the management of bison uses adaptive management to reduce risk of transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle and conserve wild, free ranging bison. All Federal and State of Montana agencies will work together to prevent any future need for the widespread slaughter of bison witnessed in 1996-1997 and meet the twin objectives of maintaining the Yellowstone’s wild and free-ranging bison herd and Montana’s brucellosis class-free status;
- Efforts to conserve the Yellowstone native cutthroat trout, threatened by invasive non-native lake trout, continue to progress; intensive gill netting and liberal angling regulations for controlling lake trout have been effective only for large adults and in spawning grounds. In the absence of effective control methods for reducing numbers of juvenile lake trout and halving lake trout populations each year, conservation of cutthroat trout is unlikely to be assured. Cutthroat trout populations are still declining; they are also threatened by possible spread of the whirling disease detected among fish caught from the Yellowstone Lake since 1998. Continued cutthroat trout declines could result in significant ecosystem wide effects;
- All of the Park’s regulated fuel tanks have been replaced with double-walled tanks; many non-regulated ones have also been subjected to the same treatment or have been switched to propane that is less susceptible to contaminating water. Contaminated soils from the removed or upgraded tanks have been excavated and are stored for final treatment and disposal. The Park has had a number of sewage problems arising from the many outdated facilities and associated infrastructure over the past decades, but 2000 began to show some slow, but important improvements which continue in current and projected budgets;
- Funding commitment has been established to allow road improvement projects to begin and continue through to 2004; an on-going programme is proposed through 2017 for upgrading remaining roads in the Park;
- A decision to phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone over the next three years was made in November 2000 with regulations promulgated in January 2001. The plan has been developed following years of research showing that the vehicles cause excessive pollution, placing Park visitors, employees, and wildlife at risk, as well as overwhelming the Park’s attractions with noise. Eventually multi-passenger snow-coaches will be the only motorised winter access to the Park over snow. The gradual phase out of snowmobiles is intended to allow local businesses that depend heavily on snowmobile tourism to increase the number of snow-coaches and adjust to the Park Service’s decision. The Park Service has begun to address summer visitation and is co-operating with a number of different institutions to find integrated solutions to transportation and energy for gateway communities and national parks in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
V.63 The Bureau thanked the Government of the United States of America for the comprehensive report submitted and commended the Park’s decision to replace snowmobiles with multi-passenger snow-coaches to serve winter visitors. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to undertake a detailed review of the report and discuss with the State Party future steps in the considerations of the Committee with regard to the monitoring of the state of conservation of Yellowstone and the possible timing of the removal of Yellowstone from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau recommended that the Centre, IUCN and the State Party submit a progress report on the outcome of the full review of the report and the associated discussions to the December 2001 session of the Committee in Finland.
Yellowstone National Park (United States of America)
VIII.59 The State Party has updated the comprehensive report it submitted at the time of the twenty-fifth session of the Bureau on this site. The Committee noted the following specific improvements, achieved between June and December 2001:
- The number of predatory lake trout fish removed through intensive gill netting and liberal angling regulations have increased from 28,000 (in the June 2001 report) to more that 43,000 in December 2001;
- Wooden water tanks at Indian Creek Campground were replaced in fall 2001; work in the contract awarded, in 2000, to line sewer lines at Lake and Mammoth Lewis Lake has started. But a backlog of work with regard to replacement or updating of smaller wastewater facilities remains to be attended to;
- The decision to ban the use of snowmobiles in place of multi-passenger snowcoaches, reported at the twenty-fifth session of the Bureau in June 2001, has been challenged by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and the Department of Interior has entered into a settlement agreement with the Association. As part of the settlement the National Park Service will prepare a supplemental EIS to analyze the ban on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr., Memorial Parkway and the alternatives to the ban. The process to prepare the supplemental EIS, invite public comment, carry out new research that may be needed, finalize, publish and begin execution of decisions would have await until the end of 2002. The outcome of the analysis will result either in the continuation of the ban or some form of continued snowmobile use.
VIII.60 The Committee recommended that the State Party, IUCN and the Centre discuss and develop action plans for the two sites including benchmarks and conditions for monitoring progress in the restoration of the integrity of the two sites and for guiding the Committee's decisions concerning the eventual removal of the two sites from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested that the outcome of the discussions between State Party, IUCN and the Centre be reported to the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June 2002. The Committee decide that both Everglades and Yellowstone be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Committee, based on new information to be provided at the time of its session, may take appropriate decisions and make recommednations for the consideration of the State Party, IUCN, Centre and other stakeholders
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).