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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Rebuilding Yellowstone floods could take years, cost billions

Created in 1872 when the United States was recovering from the Civil War, Yellowstone was the first of the national parks to be called America’s best views. Now, home to roaring geysers, roaring waterfalls and some of the country’s most plentiful and diverse wildlife, it is facing its biggest challenge in decades.

Floodwaters this week eroded several bridges, washed away kilometers of roads and closed the park as it approached peak tourist season during its 150th anniversary celebrations. The Yellowstone River and its tributaries flooded surrounding communities and flooded hundreds of homes.

The extent of the damage is still being assessed by Yellowstone officials, but depending on other national park disasters, the environmentally sensitive landscape could take years to rebuild and cost upwards of $1 billion where construction The season lasts only before the spring thaw. snow

Based on what park officials have uncovered and Associated Press images and videos taken from a helicopter, the biggest damage was done to roads, most notably the north entrance to the park in Gardiner, Montana, to the park at Mammoth Hot Springs. On the highway connecting the offices. , Large stretches of road were cut and washed away as the Gardner River jumped its banks. Perhaps hundreds of footbridges on the trails may have been damaged or destroyed.

“It’s not going to be an easy rebuild,” Superintendent Cam Sholey said earlier in the week as he highlighted photos of large gaps in the road in the steep canyon. “I don’t think it’s going to be smart to potentially invest, you know, millions of dollars in repairs to a road, or as much, that could be subject to seeing a similar flooding event in the future. Is.”

The entrance to Yellowstone National Park, a major tourist attraction, is closed due to historic floodwaters on June 15, 2022 in Gardiner, Mont.

Re-establishing a human imprint in a national park is always a delicate operation, especially as the changing climate is more prone to natural disasters. Lassen Volcanoes National Park in northern California has been witnessing an increasingly intense wildfire, including over the past year, destroying bridges, cabins and other infrastructure.

Flooding has already caused widespread damage in other parks and threatens nearly all of the more than 400 national parks, a report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization found in 2009.

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state closed for six months in 2006 following the worst flooding in its history. Damage to roads, trails, campgrounds and buildings was estimated at $36 million.

Yosemite Valley in California’s Yosemite National Park has been flooded several times, but it suffered its worst damage 25 years ago, when heavy rain fell on top of a large snowpack—a landscape similar to the Yellowstone flood—submerged campgrounds, flooded hotels. rooms, washed out bridges and stretches of road, and knocked out power and sewer lines. The park was closed for more than two months.

According to a 2013 report, Congress allocated $178 million in emergency funding—a large sum for the park’s infrastructure at the time—and the additional funding eventually exceeded $250 million.

But due to environmental lawsuits and a lengthy bureaucratic planning and review process on the once protected river corridor, the reconstruction effort once dragged on for 15 to the last four to five years.

It is unclear whether Yellowstone will face similar obstacles, although rebuilding the road running near Mammoth Hot Springs, where water bubbles steam over an otherworldly series of stone terraces, presents a challenge.

Center for Government Affairs director Brett Hartl said it was created by a unique natural formation of underground tubes and vents that push warm water to the surface and would be one of many natural wonders that would have to be taken care not to disturb . biological diversity.

Along with formation, micro-organisms and insects that thrive in the environment are also almost nowhere to be found. And the park would need to avoid damaging any archaeological or cultural artifacts in an area with rich Native American history.

Hartl said, “They have to look at all the resources that the park is designed to preserve and try to do this project as carefully as possible, but they’re also going to try to go fairly quickly. “

Hartl said rerouting the roadway that hugs the Gardner River could provide an opportunity to better protect waterways, fish and other species that thrive from oil and other microscopic pollution from vehicles passing through it. Huh.

“The river will be healthy for it,” he said.

The Yosemite floods saw the park as an opportunity to rethink its plan and not necessarily rebuild at the same site, said Frank Dean, president and chief executive of the Yosemite Conservancy and a former park ranger.

The Entrance To Yellowstone National Park Is Closed Due To Historic Floodwaters In Gardiner, Mont., On June 15, 2022.

The entrance to Yellowstone National Park is closed due to historic floodwaters in Gardiner, Mont., on June 15, 2022.

Some facilities were relocated outside the floodplain and some of the floodplain camps were never restored. At Yosemite Lodge, cabins that were slated for removal in the 1980s were swamped and had to be removed.

“The flood took them all out like a perfect attack,” Dean said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing, but Providence came and made the decision for them.”

Yellowstone’s recovery comes as a rapidly increasing number of people flock to visit the nation’s national parks, even as the backlog of deferred maintenance budgets grows into the billions of dollars. The park was already due for funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, a 2020 law passed by Congress that authorizes nearly $3 billion for maintenance and other projects on public lands.

Now it will require another infusion of funding for more pressing repairs, which Emily Dooss, director of operations and park funding at the National Parks Conservation Association, estimates could cause at least $1 billion in damages.

The southern section of the park is expected to reopen next week, allowing visitors to flock to Old Faithful, the rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and its majestic waterfalls.

But the flood-damaged north end may not reopen this year, denying visitors a view of Tower Fall and Lamar Valley, one of the world’s best places to see wolves and grizzly bears. On a few days during the high season, thousands of people standing on the side of the road to see an animal can expect to catch a glimpse.

Whether some of these areas are reopened will depend on how quickly washed-out roads can be repaired, fallen trees can be removed, and mud can be cleared.

Maintenance of approximately 750 kms of road in the entire park is a major work. Most of the roadway was originally designed for stagecoach, said Kristen Brengel, senior vice president of public affairs for the National Park Conservation Association.

“Part of the effort over the past few decades is to stabilize the road so that heavy vehicles can be made safer to travel on,” she said.

Situated at high altitudes where snow and cold weather are not uncommon for eight months of the year and there are many small earthquakes, the road surface does not last long, and road crews have a short window to complete projects. A recently completed road work closed for almost two years.

“I think it will take many years for the park to be completely back to normal,” Hartl said.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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