[Geysers] Important Document--Comment Period Closes in 2 Days

sgryc at comcast.net sgryc at comcast.net
Thu Nov 17 12:36:52 PST 2016

Dear All, 

Below is the comment that I just sent to NPS regarding the adoption of the abhorrent Order #100. I urge every GOSA associate to write a comment TODAY. Don't let your birthright be taken away by bureaucratic excess. 

I am writing to vigorously oppose adoption of the Director’s Order #100, most particularly section 6. The precautionary principle (described in lines 231 to 238 of the order) is much too broad and could (and has) been used in an abusive way to prohibit travel to important areas of the park. 

The only way to completely alleviate uncertainty of any harm to park features or to park visitors is to close the park. Indeed, permanently closing parts of the park to visitors is part of the NPS’ current strategy. Recently NPS has completely prohibited travel to Shoshone Geyser, an area of hydrothermal activity that noted geyser authority and former NPS employee Scott Bryan calls “one of the most important geyser areas in the world.” Due to its remote location, only a small fraction of park visitors are interested or hardy enough to take the trouble to visit it. All of the arguments that could be used to justify closing Shoshone Geyser Basin could also be made concerning the Old Faithful area or any other area of the park. Yes, there are and will always be hazards in Yellowstone (as there are any place else) and, yes, the environment needs to be protected (as anywhere else). People have been visiting Shoshone Geyser Basin (in relatively small numbers) since the earliest days of the park, but the NPS has abruptly taken from the most interested and invested of Yellowstone’s visitors the opportunity that past generations of Americans have enjoyed. 

It is wise and proper to place reasonable limits on activity in the park. NPS closes parts of the park when grizzly bear activity is high in those areas as a safety precaution for both visitors and bears. But those areas are not permanently closed nor is it illegal to view grizzly bears when they appear in more visited areas of the park. So extreme is the closure of Shoshone Geyser Basin that even the forest around the basin is off limits. Clearly the NPS wants to deny any kind of access to or even knowledge of the basin in direct contradiction of its mission to preserve the park for “the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” 

It once was the practice of the NPS to lead guided tours off-trail or remote areas. That practice insured that the area would be protected by the presence of an NPS employee and that visitors could still benefit from the experience. NPS has offered no alternative to the blanket prohibition in Shoshone Geyser Basin, White Creek, and other places in the park. 

I am completely opposed to Section 6 of the Director’s Order #100. If it is approved, I will work through whatever governmental means are available to see that it is rescinded. It is the birthright of every American to visit the national parks and be able to experience wilderness. I understand that the task of managing the parks is complex and difficult, but the NPS has shown in Yellowstone that the approval Order #100 will lead to prohibitions that directly contradict the basic mission of the NPS and the purpose for which our national parks were created. 

Stephen Gryc
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