Fixing Yellowstone

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CODY, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Vice President Mike Pence is expected to talk about Yellowstone National Park’s infrastructure needs when he visits old faithful on Thursday. Park officials say the tab for the backlog is nearly $600,000,000.

Yellowstone’s animals, thermal wonders, and scenery still draws record numbers of visitors: Visitation topped four million for the first time in 2015…reached four million every year since. Visitation this year is the second highest so far, according to park statistics.

While big maintenance projects are underway, like the bridge and road reconstruction on the East Entrance road near Fishing Bridge, there is a huge maintenance backlog.

The Park’s press office says by 2018, the park had delayed, or deferred almost 600 million dollars in needed repairs. That, in spite of recent improvements to places like Lake Hotel, and Canyon lodges.

Dan Wenk, who retired as Superintendent last year, remarked last June, “We’ve put in new concession contracts that have required more than a $200-million dollar investment by our concessionaire.”

Yellowstone’s current Superintendent was not available for an interview. Nor was any other spokesman at this time.

But, the park press office pointed out the enormity of the Park’s challenges with a fact sheet, which stated Yellowstone has 410 miles of maintained roads, 1723 buildings, including employee housing, eight major water and wastewater systems, and 689 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment, and hundreds of campgrounds and picnic areas, and 1100 miles of backcountry trails.

Park managers plan to spend this summer assessing the exact infrastructure needs of Yellowstone National Park. They already say many roads and bridges, visitor centers, hotels, historic buildings, trails, and campgrounds need critical repairs and upgrades.