Yellowstone National Park and Change: The 100 Year Park Service Experiment

Yellowstone involves far more than geology and ecology. Yellowstone and all other parks and wild lands are nested in cultural, economic and political environments. These are constantly changing but often in predictable ways. As these environments change, the management of the park must adapt or the purpose for which it was created will be lost. These adaptations are led by institutional entrepreneurs. Now new threats are emerging- and I’m not including climate change or invasive species. Consider the political economy of the National Park System. Under existing institutions the future looks grim. A key reason is simply that discretionary spending by the federal government is trending downward. Given the obvious and growing squeeze, new arrangements must be created to honor the Park Service mission.

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