Improving housing conditions for Yellowstone National Park employees is a top goal for the park's managers.
The goal was one of several that the park publicized on Thursday, calling them a series of major strategic priorities that will guide short- and long-term decision-making into the future.
The priorities focus heavily on the park’s team and organization, strengthening the condition of the Yellowstone ecosystem, improving visitor experience, investing in infrastructure, and expanding partnerships and coalitions.
“It’s important that our priorities and actions are clear, not only to the NPS team here in Yellowstone, but to ensure our partners and the public understand our direction in these very important areas,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly in a press release.
The priorities are:
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Focus on the core: Improve the working and living conditions of the Yellowstone team, how the park manages its financial resources, and how it works toward the best administrative and operational framework. An example of a specific action under this priority includes the development of a five-year plan to substantially improve employee housing within the park. The multi-million dollar plan will work to improve existing housing, eliminate and replace 75 trailers used for seasonal employees, and will explore new housing partnership opportunities with gateway communities and partners.
Strengthen the ecosystem and heritage resources: Respond to the effects of climate change, promote large landscape and wildlife conservation efforts, and protect and improve the condition of Yellowstone’s vast cultural and historic resources. Specific actions include: a bison management strategy that stabilizes and potentially expands the quarantine program; working with states to protect and facilitate important wildlife migration corridors; and expanding efforts to combat the impacts of non-native species like lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.
Deliver a world-class visitor experience: In handling increased visitation in upcoming years the park's staff will put special focus on visitor impacts on resources, staffing and infrastructure, visitor experience, and gateway communities. The park is moving out of the data gathering phase and beginning to determine the appropriate short- and long-term actions necessary to protect resources, mitigate impacts of congestion, and improve educational, recreational, and other visitor enjoyment opportunities. This priority also focuses heavily on improving public safety and resource protection.
Invest in infrastructure: The park’s maintenance backlog exceeds half a billion and is likely much higher. By developing a more cogent deferred maintenance reduction plan, improving the quality of data and prioritization processes, and taking better advantage of current and future funding to improve asset conditions and protect investments the park staff hopes to chip away at the work.
Build coalitions and partnerships: The park will continue to build and align priorities with many partners including Yellowstone Forever and the philanthropic community, with tribes, elected officials, environmental and conservation groups, concessioners, and communities, states, and other federal cooperators.