Those of us lucky enough to live in the Yellowstone region rarely step back and marvel at its diversity, chaos, and unique qualities.
Despite the perennial stories about Yellowstone (and other national parks) being “loved to death,” only two percent of the park is developed. Beyond the heavily-trafficked figure-eight road system, you'll find the park untouched, rugged, and spectacular. Its 3,700 square miles are remarkably untrammeled.
Yet not far from the park borders, controversy simmers over development, whether for natural gas, oil, coal, or wind. Extensive resort construction and the recent proliferation of ranchettes are transforming the landscape. Want to start an argument in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho? Ask about wolf reintroduction, grizzly bear management, fire policy, or grazing rights.
How about the rapid explosion of coal-bed methane wells? In a region where everyone is invested in the environment, opinions about its management run as hot and deep as the wondrous thermal system in Yellowstone itself. And like that thermal activity, there are frequent eruptions.
These different outlooks take place amidst some of the most stunning terrain on earth. To top it off, these contemporary environmental issues bubble just a few miles away from the mouth of the Yellowstone Caldera, an ancient active volcano that, according to some scientists, may be 60,000 years overdue to explode. The fate of Yellowstone's ecosystem is fast approaching a crossroads. A wide range of opinion is taking shape while the caldera itself shows increasing signs of life. It’s an exciting time to live here.
—C.J. Box, novelist, Wyoming
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