Jurisdictional boundaries are artificial limits imposed on natural areas. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), comprised of 100 conservation groups and 5,000 members, has assumed the role of addressing the many, complex problems created by these limits. Of particular concern has been private land development and agency inertia in protecting one of the last, more or less intact ecosystems in the temperate zone of the earth. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, seven national forests, three federal wildlife refuges, BLM lands, and private lands that occupy 10-15 percent of the 20-million-acre area. Our definition of ecosystem management is that which maintains the integrity, energy flow, trophic structure, biodiversity of species, and material flows of ecosystems. The poor public understanding of the ecosystem concept, plus misinformation floated mostly by industry, were largely responsible for failure of the Greater Yellowstone Vision. The agencies, which have limited incentive to work together, did little to enlighten the public. Data quality and exchange have been a problem. Our accomplishments include the Greater Yellowstone Tomorrow Project, a community effort to develop statements and understanding of shared goals among the communities. The Greater Yellowstone Profile document explains how the ecosystem functions. A 250-page blueprint is a GIS compilation of standards and guidelines. We pursue legislation including reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act, wilderness legislation, reform of the 1872 Mining Law, and consolidation of the Gallatin Forest in federal ownership. We facilitated negotiation between the state and federal governments to resolve water rights and prevent drilling that would alter Yellowstone's geothermal features. We successfully litigated the Targhee National Forest to stop overcutting. I conclude that there are four challenges. (1) The agencies must assume leadership in ecosystem management. (2) The agencies must assume leadership in educating the public, pointing out the errors in misinformation. (3) The agencies must unify the commitment to EM withing their own organizations. (4) There is a need for a new legal framework, including a monitoring mandate.
"Greater Yellowstone ecosystem case study,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 5, Article 10.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol5/iss1/10