1.         Yellowstone National Park (United States of America) (N 28)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1995-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/28/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/28/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/28/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003


The State Party provided a state of conservation report dated 17 April 2003, in which it requests the Committee consider removing the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The report provided the following information:


1. Mining activities. The State Party reported that the mining proposal at the site adjacent to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area (Gallatin National Forest) and Yellowstone National Park was abandoned and that most of the property was transferred to public domain. Cleanup of toxic materials from past mining started in 2000 and is expected to take seven years. The McLaren tailings, which are outside of the Yellowstone, were left out of the cleanup agreement and, while the tailings have stabilized and water quality inside the Park has improved, the Park continues efforts to have them removed and the site restored.


2. Threats to bison. In 2000, Yellowstone National Park, State of Montana, US Forest Service, USDA Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service co-signed a joint Bison Management Plan that agreed to maintain wildlife populations and manage the risk of transmission of Brucella infection from bison to cattle. The Plan has been successfully implemented for two years. Discussions and research are underway to consider ways to eventually eliminate brucellosis from wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area while maintaining wild and free ranging wildlife herds.


3. Threats to cutthroat trout. In 1994, predatory non-native lake trout were discovered in Yellowstone Lake threatening the existence of the rare, endemic Yellowstone cutthroat trout, plus 42 other native birds and mammals that depend on them for their own survival. Experts on these fish species concluded that no technology is known to eradicate lake trout. The best that could be implemented for long-term suppression of lake trout was the annual deployment of “industrial strength gillnetting”. Since 1995, gillnetting fishing effort has resulted in the destruction of approximately 56,000 adult and juvenile lake trout. Catch-per-unit-effort declined in 2003 for the first year giving biologists hope that exploitation was beginning to affect the population, but this must be consistent for the next 3 –5 years before definitive conclusions can be made.


4. Water quality issues. All of the Park’s fuel storage tanks have been replaced with new double-walled liquid tanks or with more environmentally friendly propane gas tanks. While the facilities with the biggest problems have been (or are being) replaced, a backlog of smaller wastewater facilities remain in Yellowstone and will be replaced or updated in the future as funds are available.


5. Road impacts. Since 1995, much has been accomplished in upgrading the existing road system, but it is a slow process because of the short construction season and the fact that reconstruction must be reasonably compatible with summer visitors. An annual funded programme of complete bed and/or surface replacement is expected to continue through 2017.


6. Visitor use impacts. The completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a new winter use management plan and a Record of Decision in 2000, called for phasing out snowmobile use over a three year period, and replacing them with non-polluting, mass transit snow coaches. This decision was challenged in federal court and a supplemental EIS (SEIS) had to be prepared. The final SEIS was released in February 2003, while the Record of Decision was signed on 25 March 2003. The National Parks Service decision allows for continued snowmobile use under strict limitations, establishing daily use limits, requiring the use of the new cleaner and quieter four cycle machines, and requiring snowmobile parties to be guided. The report states that the Park has focused on development of partnerships that have encouraged use of alternate fuels for transportation and facilities.



The new information provided above has been proposed on a consensual basis between IUCN and the Centre. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7A.12

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes the detailed report by the State Party provided on 17 April 2003;

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. Recommends that the State Party continue its efforts in ensuring that the Mclaren Mine tailings are not contaminating the property;

4. Recognizes the progress made in addressing all the key issues that led to the inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1995 and considers that the reasons for retaining the property on this List no longer exist;

5. Congratulates the State Party for the considerable efforts and suggests to use this as a model case for promoting success stories of the World Heritage Convention and for international co-operation with other States Parties facing similar problems in World Heritage properties;

6. Decides to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

7. Invites the State Party:

(a) to continue its commitment to address the issues that have concerned the Committee in the past, 

(b) to provide to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004, existing recovery plans setting out targets and indicators for the 6 remaining long-term management issues (mining activities outside the park, threats to bison, threats to cutthroat trout, water quality issues, road impacts and visitor use impacts), for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004,

(c) to continue to report to the Committee on the original threats and the progress made towards resolving  these issues until such time that the Committee decides that the reports are no longer needed. These reports shall include public input, including - but not limited to - independent experts, NGOs and other key stakeholders.

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 8B.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following examination of state of conservation reports of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-03/27.COM/7A),;

2. Decides to remove the following properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger: