Stewardship Encouraged Thru Yellowstone Pledge
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 27, 2020
Are you ready to take the Yellowstone Pledge?
With National Park Service staff reduced to what some would say is below the bare minimum, Yellowstone is asking and relying on individuals to exercise self-restraint and responsibility while exploring the park. Just last Thursday, four men were observed walking across delicate algal mats to get their picture taken at the edge of Grand Prismatic. Thankfully, other park visitors documented the blatant violation and reported the men, their vehicle, license plate number to rangers at Old Faithful. Other parks have reported similar incidents of vandalism.
In this spirit, park staff took to Facebook to encourage everyone to take the pledge – “I pledge to protect Yellowstone National Park. I will act responsibly and safely, set a good example for others, and share my love of the park and all the things that make it special.” It can be taken anywhere: it doesn’t need to be taken out loud or in front of anyone. But to spread the word, put #YellowstonePledge on your social media and encourage others to do the same. They have released a list of 10 ways to ensure you follow the pledge – which is also a list of ways to avoid significant fines, park bans, and jail time.
- Give wildlife room, use a zoom. The safest way to view wildlife is through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars. Park animals are wild and dangerous. Bison, bears, and elk have injured and killed people. Do not approach, encircle, follow, or feed any animal. Stay 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves. Stay 25 yards (23 m) from all other animals.
- Follow the beaten path. In thermal areas, boardwalks take you to amazing places, protect the park, and keep you safe. People have been severely burned and killed after leaving the boardwalk or reaching into hot water. Geysers, mud pots, and hot springs are delicate. Don’t throw anything into any hydrothermal features, touch them, or change them in any way.
- Be bear aware. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Be alert, make noise, hike in groups, and stay on trails. If you encounter a bear, never run.
- Watch out for water. Use caution around rivers, lakes, and streams. They are cold and fast and people have died from hypothermia and drowning after accidentally falling into frigid water.
- Practice safe selfies. No picture is worth hurting yourself, others, or the park. Be aware of your surroundings whether near wildlife, thermal areas, roads, or steep cliffs.
- Enjoy the ride. Drive defensively and cautiously. This park has hazards on the road you aren’t used to at home (like 2,000-lb. bison). Follow speed limits and stay with your car if you’re stuck in a wildlife jam. When you want to take a photo or look around, use pullouts to avoid blocking traffic and damaging vegetation. Turn off your vehicle when stopped in a traffic line.
- Leave your drone at home. Drones are not allowed in Yellowstone National Park. They disturb wildlife, interfere with park operations, and bother people trying to enjoy natural sounds.
- Clean, Drain, Dry. Help us prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Clean, drain, and dry your watercraft and fishing gear before you come into the park or move from one body of water to another.
- Stash your trash. Recycle what you can and put the rest in bear-resistant trash cans so animals can’t get to it. If a can happens to be full, find another.
- Leave what you find. Don’t take antlers, artifacts, rocks, plants, or other objects from the park.
There was one final reminder from Yellowstone staff – If you see someone, in person or online, whose behavior might hurt them, others, or the park, tell a ranger. But if you’re in the park and such a situation presents itself, you can always dial 911 as well.