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Yellowstone National Park

United States of America
Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Forestry /wood production
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • 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 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its last session (Naples, 1997), the Committee commended the initiative of the President of the State Party to remove the potential mining threat to Yellowstone National Park, by offering a mutually agreed upon trade of land valued at US$ 65 million. The Committee noted that the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals Management and the Under Secretary of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment had both signed, on 12 August 1997, the decision authorizing the withdrawal of mineral entry from 22,065 ha near Cooke City, Montana. Despite the successful mitigation of the threat due to the proposed mining project, the Committee agreed with the assessment of the State Party that there remain other serious threats to the natural resources and values of Yellowstone. Hence, the Committee decided to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The State Party has informed the Centre that it will provide an update on the state of conservation of Yellowstone in time for the twenty-second session of the Committee.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 1998

The Committee may review new information that is expected to be available at the time of its twenty-third session and decide whether or not Yellowstone National Park should be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 BUR V.A.1
State of conservation

The Bureau reviewed state of conservation reports on thirteen of the fifteen natural World Heritage sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau was informed that no new information was received with regard to the two natural World Heritage sites of the United States of America, namely the Everglades and Yellowstone National Parks, and that up-to-date information on the state of conservation of those two sites, based on reports requested from the State Party by 15 September 1998, and expected to be received by then, will be submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee to be convened in Kyoto, Japan, during 30 November – 5 December, 1998.

22 COM VII.13/5
SOC: Yellowstone National Park (United States of America)

VII.13 Yellowstone National Park (United States of America)

At its last session (Naples, 1997), the Committee noted that the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals Management and the Under Secretary of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment had both signed, on 12 August 1997, the decision authorizing the withdrawal of mineral entry from 22,065 ha near Cooke City, Montana. The potential threat due to the extraction of the New World Mine by Crown Butte was thus mitigated. The Delegate of the United States of America informed the Committee that since then his Government has entered into an additional agreement with Crown Butte to devote US$ 22.5 million of the US$ 65 million to clean up contamination from nearly 100 years of mining near Yellowstone. The New World Mine property was formally transferred to the US Forest Service on 12 August 1998; the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency have begun developing a plan to remedy historic mine impacts.

A potential threat to Yellowstone's bison population arises from the concerns of the livestock regulatory officials that free-ranging bison might transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle on private and public lands outside the Park. These concerns have resulted in a law-suit being brought against the National Park Service in 1995, and created pressure on the Park authorities to develop an interim plan which, amongst other measures, foresaw the capture and slaughter of bison which are infected with the disease both within and outside of the Park. Given that the capture and slaughter outrages the public, bison management is likely to remain contentious. The work of the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Committee is facilitating information exchange among several state and federal agencies and is addressing various issues regarding brucellosis in wildlife, notably bison and elk. The purchase of 15,000 acres of critical areas of the bison's winter range, in November 1998, may contribute further towards the development of a long-term bison management plan that would minimize the need for widespread slaughter witnessed in the winter of 1997.

The ascertained threat to the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, caused by the invasion of the non-native Yellowstone Lake trout also continues to prevail, despite the fact various mitigation measures are being attempted. A serious decline in the population of cutthroat trout could impact grizzly bears, bald eagle and 40 other mammalian and avian species which feed on the native fish species to some extent. Intensive gill netting and liberal angling regulations have helped to remove more then 6000 non-native trout from the Yellowstone Lake. But netting programmes appear to be affecting adults only and the population of the non-native species could show a resurgence as juveniles enter the fishery.

The Park management continues its efforts to address other ascertained threats to water quality due to leaking wastes and sewage and regulate visitor pressure and improve Park roads to ensure safety of visitors. While the Park management is investigating several options to minimize the impacts of these threats, progress in implementing remedial actions is slow and the Delegate of the United States informed the Committee that his Government believes that Yellowstone is still in Danger. The Committee agreed with the request of the State Party and decided to retain Yellowstone in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Committee applauded the exemplary dedication and highest levels of commitment that the US Government has shown in its efforts to mitigate threats to the two sites included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 1998
United States of America
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1995-2003
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 22COM (1998)
Exports

* : 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”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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