(from the 1916 NPS Organic Act)
Faculty: Michael Patterson, Wayne Freimund
Student: Wylie Carr
The National Park Service is a steward, not just of natural resources, but also of deeply held values Americans associate with nature and public lands. Biological data plays an important role in informing NPS decision making, but so does social data. Social data can contribute to understanding visitors’ evaluations of the quality of NPS stewardship and serves as one means of giving voice to the public on these issues.
This research project explores winter visitors’ perceptions of issues related to bison management in relation to winter recreation use in Yellowstone National Park. Initiated at the request of the National Park Service to help inform their adaptive management planning processes, this project follows from an earlier winter use study by our students and faculty conducted prior to major changes in management of winter visitor use in Yellowstone that have occurred over the last several years.
This project not only informs the National Park Service and supports graduate students on research assistantships, it also enhances the quality of our undergraduate teaching mission. We use Yellowstone winter use planning as a case study to help our students gain a real world understanding of the managerial, legal, social and political dimensions of the professional practice they are about to enter.