GYC staff wraps up a successful 2018

It’s been a great 2018 at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. We’re lucky to have had some big wins, some new faces, and a fun year out exploring and protecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Check out what some of our staff said were their favorite moments from 2018.

An overview of the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana. There are two proposed gold mines at the northern gateway of Yellowstone. (Photo Bill Campbell.)

An overview of the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana. There are two proposed gold mines at the northern gateway of Yellowstone. (Photo Bill Campbell.)

My favorite season in Greater Yellowstone is always the one that is changing. It represents the pulse of life, hope, and opportunity. Looking back over our work to stop large-scale gold mining next to Yellowstone, I see a similar ebb and flow of successes, near-misses, uncertainties, and evolution. I’m grateful for the efforts of so many and the unequivocal commitment required to accomplish in just a few seasons that which often takes an entire career. We’ve gone from being within one day of drilling to a 20-year timeout from mining on 30,370 acres of public land. A bill in Congress to turn that time-out permanent is supported across the board, with bi-partisan support from Montana’s delegation. GYC’s successful arguments in court, backed up by the countless letters, and effort from the community have only confirmed what Montanans inherently know, Yellowstone is more valuable than gold.

-Joe Josephson, Senior Montana Conservation Associate, Bozeman, Montana

Summer of 2018 saw the culmination of years of patience, persistence and passion which resulted in Carbon County’s East Rosebud Creek being protected as a Wild and Scenic River.  The staff at GYC is grateful to have been part of the team that was spearheaded by the Friends of East Rosebud. This partnership showcases the value of free-flowing streams for a broad base of Montanans.  No single interest group prevailed, instead East Rosebud is protected for future generations to enjoy now and forever.

-Bob Zimmer, Water Program Coordinator, Bozeman, Montana

GYC completed two interpretive signs (designed and installed) with the Shoshone National Forest addressing the upper Clarks Fork Wild & Scenic River as part of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the forest’s only designated river. 

This is part of an ongoing project and partnership with Shoshone National Forest that began in 2014 with a potential outcome of twelve new interpretive signs along the Chief Joseph and Beartooth Scenic Highways. (These were signs 2 and 3.)

-Jenny DeSarro, Wyoming Conservation Coordinator, Cody, Wyoming

Installing a bear box at the Spring Creek campground on Hebgen Lake. (Photo GYC.)

Installing a bear box at the Spring Creek campground on Hebgen Lake. (Photo GYC.)

In 2018, GYC completed our five-year partnership with all of the forests in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) to bear-proof campgrounds. This project purchased nearly 1,200 bear boxes, dumpsters, gates, and signs to make the 164 campgrounds across the five national forests in the GYE safer for people and bears. I’m especially thankful to the donors who made this possible, the leadership at GYC that directed me to think bigger, and to Dan Tyers, the GYE Grizzly Bear Habitat Coordinator for the National Forest who got us through “perennial and pernicious” discussions about budgets, stickers and box designs. Finally, I’m thankful for Joe Alexander, the former Forest Supervisor for the Shoshone, who provided early leadership for this project, and Clint Kyle the former Forest Supervisor for the Bridger Teton National Forest, who didn’t get to see this project to fruition before his untimely passing. Both helped this project from conception to completion because of their passion for doing what is best for bears and the resource.

-Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator, Jackson, Wyoming

Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2018, the Wyoming Edition, left participants with impressive memories of Wyoming badlands to the bisecting Winds and Gros Ventre mountain ranges at 9,658 feet.  350 cyclists pedaled from Cody to Lander, Wyoming, finishing with a final adventure into Sinks Canyon. Aside from pedaling throughout the week, cyclists took in excursions such as hiking through Gooseberry Badlands, sampling Wyoming Whiskey, a pow wow with the Eagle Spirit Dancers, and learning how to use bear spray with a bear charger.  

-Jennifer Drinkwalter, Events Coordinator, Red Lodge, Montana

Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s I’M A LOCAL campaign becomes more visible throughout the ecosystem. (Photo GYC.)

Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s I’M A LOCAL campaign becomes more visible throughout the ecosystem. (Photo GYC.)

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed seeing the I’M A LOCAL campaign sticker plastered on cars, businesses, waters bottles, you name it! The I’M A LOCAL campaign was created to raise awareness about GYC’s mission: people protecting the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem now and for future generations. It takes all of us to protect what we love about living here, and I’m glad people are catching on. If you want a sticker for your car (or business or water bottle), sign up here and I’ll send you one!

-Christi Weber, Director of Communications and Marketing, Bozeman, Montana

I’m thankful for partners like The Nature Conservancy, Idaho Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together we are able to help the residents of Island Park, ID co-exist with wildlife. Whether it’s helping a rancher along Duck Creek fence cows out of a bog so they don’t get trapped and become easy prey for grizzlies, working with a family on the Henry’s Lake Flat to protect their property for moose and other big game, or helping purchase bear resistant containers, we love getting out on the ground with our partners to provide real solutions that are good for people and wildlife.

-Kathy Rinaldi, Idaho Conservation Coordinator, Driggs, Idaho

Back in April, more than 250 people gathered at Our Shared Place: The Present and Future of Recreation in Greater Yellowstone symposium to begin a challenging conversation about balancing increasing outdoor recreation with protecting the remarkable wildlife, clean water and inspiring landscapes of Greater Yellowstone. We grounded the conversation with our inventory of outdoor recreation data and stories of how we connect with nature and each other when we go outside. The diverse array of stories and information whether from climbers, runners, dirt bikers, writers, people of color, Native Americans, horseback riders, scientists, agency staff, anglers, snowmobilers, people with disabilities, mountain bikers, and Montana’s governor, all shared a unifying passion for Greater Yellowstone. I came away from this symposium inspired by the energy of a young and diverse crowd of participants who share my enthusiasm for protecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and enjoying its amazing recreational opportunities. We all bring different passions and perspectives to these discussions, and in the end, that’s what we’ll need to find solutions that work for the people, communities, wildlife, and wild places of this remarkable place.

-Caroline Byrd, Executive Director, Bozeman, Montana