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Yellowstone National Park receives awards

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Albright Visitor Center

A team was recognized for developing innovative new exhibits and multimedia features that educate visitors about wildlife and park history as a part of the renovation of the Albright Visitor Center.

Each year the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior select outstanding employees, partners and projects for regional and national recognition. This year, Yellowstone National Park has more than a dozen award winners in five categories:

Todd Koel was awarded the 2015 Regional Director's Award for Natural Resource Management. The award honors Koel for his significant contributions in reversing decreasing trends in native fish populations and associated losses of ecosystem function in Yellowstone. He also led the restoration of native arctic grayling and cutthroat trout to several watersheds and intensified efforts to suppress nonnative lake trout and restore cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake.

Rick Wallen was awarded the 2015 Regional Director's Award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resource Stewardship for his commitment to the restoration of the only ecologically and genetically viable population of wild plains bison in the world. Wallen implemented research that demonstrated far greater genetic diversity in Yellowstone bison than previously known, and quantified the effects of grazing by bison in grasslands transitioning from an elk- to a bison-dominated landscape. He also published a book entitled Yellowstone Bison — Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.

Rich Jehle was awarded the 2015 Regional Freeman Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation. His major accomplishments include development of the West Yellowstone Outreach Program, a multifaceted effort that includes ranger-led programming; training of commercial guides and outfitters; participation in community groups and establishment of a semi-annual photography festival.

Tami Blackford, Judy Knuth Folts, Neal Herbert, Jim Peaco, Diane Renkin, Brian Suderman, Jo Suderman, Holli Traucht and Janine Waller were awarded the 2015 Intermountain Region Achieving Relevance in Interpretation Award. The award recognizes the team for developing innovative new exhibits and multimedia features that educate visitors about wildlife and park history as a part of the renovation of the Albright Visitor Center.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Yellowstone’s concessioner, won a 2015 Department of Interior Environmental Achievement Award for their Sustainable Food Choice Program. Xanterra’s operation at Yellowstone includes 31 guest food and beverage outlets, 3,125 dining room seats, over 2 million employee and guest meals annually, and at peak season the company can serve 20,000 meals per day. With $10 million in annual food and beverage expenditures, the company’s prioritization of sustainable cuisine has a significant impact on local foods systems and economies.

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