With $1.45 million in new grants, Yellowstone National Park will fund conservation of a native trout species, purchase horses and mules, and hire rangers to monitor “bear jams” when traffic clogs as tourists snap photos of wildlife.
Several other projects will also be funded.
The bulk of the grant will go toward programs to conserve native fish, particularly the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The park foundation designated $1 million for the program, and the federal government is matching that to make it $2 million.
“Yellowstone cutthroat trout represent an important food source for grizzlies, raptors and other species,” Dan Wenk, park superintendent, said in a prepared statement. “Their loss could have dramatic consequences for the entire ecosystem.”
Lake trout, an invasive species, are threatening Yellowstone cutthroat populations in Yellowstone Lake and its tributaries. The cutthroat is a keystone species in the Yellowstone area, and an estimated 42 species of wildlife – including coyotes, ospreys and otters – depend on the fish for food. They could all be impacted if the cutthroat population were drastically reduced.
Lake trout cannot substitute cutthroat trout as a food source because they live in deeper parts of the lake and are difficult to catch.
A program that aims to keep wildlife and visitors in the park safe has been designated $100,000. The funds will be used to hire rangers to monitor “wildlife jams.” The rangers will make sure tourists stay safe and don’t venture too close to wildlife when stopping to take photos. Written materials will also be made available to visitors.
Another $100,000 will go toward planning and designing Norris Geyser Basin Access improvements, including accommodation for a larger number of visitors and more protection of fragile hydrothermal features.
New horses, mules and equipment will be bought for backcountry and front-country operations. About $65,000 has been made available for those purchases.
Another $50,000 has been allotted for restoring historic roadside kiosks.
More than 15,000 individuals, foundations and corporations donated to the foundation in the past year.
“Private contributions of all sizes make our work possible, year after year,” Kress said in a prepared statement. “As we celebrate our 15th anniversary as Yellowstone’s fundraising partner, we are more grateful than ever for the many people who have stepped up to be stewards of Yellowstone.”