Jerry Johnson & John Baden
When Congress created Yellowstone National Park, the world's first, in 1872, it launched an experiment that aimed to balance preserving wild ecosystems while providing access to citizens for recreation and rejuvenation. Much of the world has emulated the national park model. Yellowstone is a lesson in how important institutional structure is to conservation. Shortly after the designation, Congress failed to fund the park's management. Vandalism and poaching was rampant. When the U.S. Army administered the park beginning in 1886 it likely saved many geological treasures and certainly much of the wildlife. In addition, the legacy of military stewardship was to maintain the primitive state of the park and argue against commercialization. Capt. Harris, and his successor Capt. Boutelle, set the tone for the future management of national parks that would be adopted in 1916 when Congress formed the National Park Service.
The three books presented here represent a temporal cross section of how we understand the region. When John Stoddard visited the park he could not imagine the park not being managed by the Army. It was the only institution at the time that could take on the logistical and enforcement responsibilities required of such a large and remote landscape. One hundred years later, we can appreciate Bob Barbee's approach to management as we increasingly understand that managing parks is as much about managing people as it is managing wildlife. Finally, the more we know about the park from a scientific standpoint, the deeper our understanding of the complexity of the natural world and why some problems seem to persist.
Generous supporters of this FREE project celebrating Yellowstone on the Centennial of the National Park System enable us to offer these online ebooks free of charge. Please take some time to explore the site. We hope you enjoy the suite of e-books as much as we enjoyed discovering and delivering them. Special thanks to Bob Barbee, Dan Wenk, John Varley, Doug Smith, and Scott McMillion, and park employees everywhere. They are the keepers of our most precious national treasures.