Yellowstone releases studies, hopes to get handle on crowds, traffic | Environment

New studies released by Yellowstone National Park show that park visitors are annoyed by other park visitors, that parking lots are overcrowded and that all the cars and buses might wear out some park roads within the next five years.

Yellowstone National Park released two studies on Thursday — one looking at visitor use and enjoyment, the other looking at transportation. Neither study recommended any policy changes. Instead, park officials view them as the first of many studies that will help them decide what to do about the throngs passing through the gates each summer.

“It will get us a foundation in which we begin to think about what’s the future of Yellowstone,” said Morgan Warthin, spokeswoman for the park. She added that more focused studies are planned between now and 2019.

Park officials have been talking about studying human use of the park for a couple of years. As the park continues to get more crowded, park brass have signaled that they want to do something to minimize the impact of ballooning numbers on the park’s natural features and visitor experience.

Exactly what to do remains an open question, and the park hopes studying people will inform those talks.

The National Parks Conservation Association is excited that the park is looking at these issues. Stephanie Adams, the Yellowstone program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement that it’s important the park weigh a number of options.

“It is essential that any future plan to address visitor experience be backed by an evaluation of all available options, with an emphasis on considering the long-term impacts to park resources,” she said.

Both studies were done in August of 2016. For the visitor use study, park officials handed out questionnaires at each of its five gates. A little more than 1,200 were returned.

The questionnaires showed that most visitors didn’t come alone, and that most of them only came once a year. Of the respondents, 66 percent reported that they spent more than one day at the park.

The study said 82 percent of visitors were white and 15 percent were Asian. American Indians and Alaska Natives accounted for 2 percent, African Americans 1 percent. Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders made up less than one percent.

Most of the park’s international visitors came from Europe, at…

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