Changing times

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:56:19 06/30/14

In Reply to: How To Enjoy And Stay Safe In Yellowstone Over The Fourth (News Release) posted by greywolf

I am intensely curious about the prohibition on eating in thermal areas. If anyone has easy access to the compendium of Superintendent's Orders or other depositories of Yellowstone Rules, I'd sure like to know when this went into effect.

Depending on how long ago this became a rule, I and hundreds, likely thousands, of other visitors have repeatedly violated this prohibition.

I'm remembering a time, back in the 1980s, when there were problems with the marmot population around and under the boardwalk at Old Faithful. Visitors kept feeding them. At some critical point, the marmots lost their fur, so we had "naked marmots" running around. I took photos of them for use in an interpretive slide program at Rocky Mountain National Park about the down side of feeding human food to wild critters. (One of the theories about the hair loss, advanced by some biologists, was that the marmots were suffering from malnutrition, due to eating the wrong foods.) Eventually, the NPS elevated the boardwalk, which allowed coyotes to reach the panhandlers, and the marmots disappeared.

I'm remembering precious times in thermal areas eating:

1.) Lunch at Shoshone Geyser Basin in August of 1982. We had canoed in from Lewis Lake, were staying at a backcountry campsite on Shoshone Lake, and were spending the entire day in the Basin.

2.) an ice cream cone at Grand Geyser in June of 1983. It was an extremely hot day, and Grand was 2-3 hours late, with 14 or 15 Turban cycles having transpired. A generous benefactor had actually purchased ice cream at Lower Hams, and rushed it out there. Sure, it was soft and melting, but it was greatly appreciated!

3.) lunch in the early 2000s during the Goodbye to Geysers activity in the UGB. A group of us were conducting a vigil at Artemisia Geyser, and had brought lunch in our daypacks.

4.) lunch with groups of Loons countless times in the 2000s in backcountry thermal areas, like Glen Africa Basin, Rabbit Creek, Sentinel Meadows.

5.) lunch in the Violet Springs thermal area back in the mid-2000s, with a group of backcountry wanderers that included two NPS Section Chiefs and the head of the VSO.

I was not aware of the prohibition against eating in thermal areas, so I am surmising that it is a relatively recent development. I am curious as to the rationale for it. If it is primarily due to fear of litter being blown into thermal features, I can understand that. I'm just wondering if there are other concerns that I am not aware of.

Any other transgressors care to fess up?


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