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Yellowstone National Park

United States of America
Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Wildlife infection and transmission to domestic stock

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Geothermal development and other subsurface drillings (issue resolved)
  • Grizzli bears mortalities and habitat loss due to timber harvesting, oil and gas development, road and home building, mining... (issue resolved)
  • Heavy metals and acid pollution from abandoned mining tailings (issue resolved)
  • Water related concerns due to a proposed New World mine (issue resolved)
  • Bison and elk threatened due to proposals to try and eridacate disease from them
  • Lake trout invasion is a threat to indigenous cutthroat trout and other species 
  • Increased visitor use
  • Need to elaborate a monitoring plan with benchmarks and indicators 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

IUCN reports that the 2001-2002 snowmobile season was the worst recorded in Yellowstone National Park history for illegal snowmobile activity. 338 infringements were filed, more than double the previous year’s total, and hundreds of warnings for violations ranging from speeding to careless driving to trespassing into protected areas were issued.  A snowmobile industry lawsuit has taken almost a year and a half and has delayed the phase out of snowmobiles.  The State Party report to the 25th session of the Committee noted that, in response to the lawsuit– a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was to be prepared. IUCN understands that the SEIS was released in February 2002, and, as with previous studies, it demonstrates that snowmobile use would cause significantly more pollution and noise and provide less protection for Yellowstone’s wildlife than the proposed alternative of using snow-coaches. The Draft SEIS identifies four alternatives for winter use management in Yellowstone, including two plans, which would ban snowmobiles from the Park altogether, and two which would grant the vehicles access to the Park but set quotas on the numbers allowed at various entrances and impose emission standards. The NPS has received 350,000 comments on the Draft SEIS which are currently being evaluated. IUCN has furthermore noted that Yellowstone has been included in the Department of Interior’s inaugural “Top 12 Projects to Restore America’s Parks”.  The Department plans to spend US$75,000 to move a sewer line away from the Old Faithful Geyser and the active portion of the basin in order to protect the geysers and groundwater and prevent damage to the wastewater system. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21A.8
Yellowstone National Park (United States of America)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes that the State Party has prepared the draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Study and has received 350,000 comments which are currently being evaluated;

2. Urges the State Party to continue to report on Yellowstone's snowmobile phase-out and other efforts to ensure that winter travel facilities respect the protection of the Park, its visitors, and its wildlife;

3. Invites the State Party to co-operate with IUCN and the Centre to prepare a report for submission to its 27th session in June/July 2003, containing steps it intends to take to develop action plans and define parameters and conditions to monitor progress in the restoration of the integrity of the site with a view to facilitating the Committee's future considerations for removing the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

4. Decides to retain the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following:


"The Committee commends the State Party on preparing the Draft SEIS and for the commitment of US$75,000 for the protection of the site’s environmental quality. The Committee requests the authorities to provide information on the follow-up to the Draft SEIS alternatives as well as on implementation of restoration plans in the Park. The Committee urges the State Party to continue to report on Yellowstone’s snowmobile phase-out and other efforts to insure that winter travel respects the Park, its visitors, and its wildlife. Furthermore, the Committee invites the State Party to report on the development of action plans and the definition of parameters and conditions to monitor progress in the restoration of the integrity of the site with a view to facilitating the Committee’s future considerations for removing the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requests the State Party to cooperate with the Centre and IUCN to provide the information and reports concerning the above mentioned items for presentation at the 27th session of the Committee in June 2003. The Committee decides to retain the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger".

Report year: 2002
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 26COM (2002)

* : 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.