Deb Haaland and Cam Sholly Provide Update on Flood Recovery Efforts for Yellowstone National Park
Written by Caleb Nelson on July 8, 2022
“I think it’s nothing sort of miraculous that we were able to reopen 93% of the park in such a short amount of time,” Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park Cam Sholly says.
Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, joined by Assistant Secretary Shannon Estenoz, and Cam Sholly, gave statements this morning for a media appearance regarding the current reconstruction and repair efforts following the “500-year” flood event in the region near the middle of June.
“We have made a lot of progress with the support of the Department of the Interior, the Park Service, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration,” Sholly says.
Sholly thanked local and regional partners, stakeholders, as well as the states, counties, and communities for their work “navigating this very difficult situation.”
“All of you can be very proud of the Yellowstone team for handling not only the emergency of the flood event but the recovery operations that are ongoing currently – getting the park operational to the best degree that we can,” Sholly says.
After the encouraging opening remarks, Sholly moved to specifics, saying, “the Secretary was one of the first people to call me right after the flood event.” Sholly explained that recovery efforts would not be as far along with the support of Haaland and her team.
Referring to portions of the park still closed, Sholly says, “The 7% that’s not open is in very, very critical corridors.”
“We’re working with Federal Highways and many partners, we’ve gotten money freed up from the Secretary and the Secretary of Transportation up to $60 million dollars that we can put to use immediately,” Sholly states. This money will be used to “reconnect” Gardiner and Cooke City and relevant corridors.
“Some of you have seen the road that we’re expanding between Gardiner and Mammoth – we plan to have that two lane paved sometime around October,” Sholly adds. Efforts are underway to make the park as “accessible as possible” on the Northern ends both for Cooke City and Gardiner.
Visitors, while they cannot drive, are allowed to hike, bike, and fish in Yellowstone using access points in Gardiner and Cooke City.
Sholly then turned the microphone over to Secretary Deb Haaland who thanked folks for attending the meeting at Old Faithful Inn. Haaland mentioned that this was her fourth trip to Yellowstone, saying, “I stood in front of Old Faithful when it went off and I cried for the entire thing because that’s what nature does sometimes – it humbles us.”
“Even though this is my fourth trip to Yellowstone, it’s definitely not going to be my last,” Haaland says.
During Haaland’s visit, she held meetings with Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, and Governor Greg Gianforte (all of Montana) about the work that needs to be done to repair the damage done by the flood.
“We had a chance to see one of the roads that had completely caved in firsthand, it’s pretty evident that the river has a mind of its own and those are things that Cam and the team will take into consideration as they look at ways to rebuild,” Haaland explains.
“I’ve been absolutely inspired by the determination of the team here,” Haaland says.