Saturday, March 1, 2008

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park was established on this day in 1872, 17 years before Montana became a state. Not that much of Yellowstone is in Montana, but we tend to claim it anyway since it is has such a large presence in our vision of the place. "Vision", not experience, since many locals keep thinking they will visit "next year" - which generally only happens if out-of-town visitors are interested or a school field trip needs a chaperone. But it is there and its existence makes a difference somehow. It keeps us aware of the conflicts between wilderness areas and development, between wolves and ranchers, between bears and campers, between bison and cattle, between fire ecology and buildings. It keeps us grounded in the real world even if we only visit the park once every decade.

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