Park Service seeks comments on Yellowstone World Heritage progress report

The Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is among the resources that helped the park gain recognition as a U.N. World Heritage Site. (Ruffin Prevost/Yellowstone Gate - click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

CODY, Wyo. — The National Park Service has made available a draft progress report on addressing threats to Yellowstone National Park that will be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Public comments on the draft will be included with the final report that is submitted to UNESCO.

Yellowstone was among the initial properties designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1978. The U.N. managing committee placed Yellowstone on its list of endangered sites in 1995 and removed it in 2003.

The current report will be the sixth submitted by the Park Service detailing efforts to overcome the threats to park resources that initiated Yellowstone’s 1995 endangered listing.

The areas of concern addressed in the report cover many of the major issues that are familiar to those who track park management. They include:

  • efforts to secure bison migration routes to public and private property north of the park.
  • fundraising to pay for lake trout suppression efforts over the next six years.
  • work to increase park grizzly bear connectivity with bears throughout the greater yellowstone area and to consider the need to further mitigate human-bear conflicts.
  • consideration of how state management of gray wolves may impact the wolf population within the park.
  • development of a sustainability program to reduce the impacts of visitation and park operations.
  • continuing assessment of winter visitation and the effects from snowmobiles.

The treaty that established U.N. World Heritage Sites was adopted in 1972 and became effective in 1975. It grew out of efforts led by the U.S. a decade earlier to protect ancient Egyptian monuments along the Nile River from being lost to rising waters from proposed dams and reservoirs.

There are 936 sites listed, more than 700 of which are cultural properties like the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

Natural sites include the Galápagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon National Park.

Each of the 187 nations that have ratified the U.N. World Heritage Site treaty voluntarily nominates its own sites featuring outstanding natural or cultural values. Member nations retain complete sovereignty over each site and over the operation of locations added to the list.

Public comments on the draft report may be submitted through Jan. 20 at the National Park Service web site.


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