Last updated: July 23. 2014 3:04PM - 454 Views
By Jen Stevens Special to the Weekender



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I recently spent some time at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana and let me just say there may not be a more beautiful place in this country. Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting knows that it’s a sacred place. Vast herds of bison roam free; black bear, grizzly bear, elk, moose and wolves are just a few types of wildlife you might catch a glimpse of while at the park. Yellowstone is home to half of the world’s geothermal features as well, including the Old Faithful Geyser. Sadly, if the wrong person gets elected this pristine ecological retreat could be threatened.


Wyoming state governor candidate Taylor Haynes (R) has some pretty awful plans for Yellowstone if he gets his way. Haynes wants all national parks and federal lands in Wyoming, including Yellowstone, to be turned over to the state. Once the state has control Haynes wants to allow all this land to be leased for drilling, mining and grazing. This includes the Devils Tower National Monument and Grand Teton National Park. According to the Casper Star Tribune, Haynes wants to manage every square inch of Wyoming. Is this guy serious?


Not only is Yellowstone home to so many animals with threatened ecosystems and precious geothermal sites, it’s a historical park that led the way in preserving mother earth’s most unique and beautiful spaces. In 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park in the world. Native Americans lived in Yellowstone for around 11,000 years, if not more. Over 1,000 archaeological sites were also found in Yellowstone within the first few years of being a national park. Yellowstone spans an area of over 3,400 square miles that includes lakes, canyons, valleys, mountain ranges and Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high altitude lakes in North America and is centered right over the largest super volcano on the continent as well.


While the chance of actually drilling in Yellowstone is slim, I’m not sure drilling in a place with hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pits fueled by an active volcano is such a good idea. Haynes is challenging Gov. Matt Mead, who opposes the drilling in Yellowstone and Mead is expected to take the win. Sadly Haynes is not the only politician who wants to take over Yellowstone. Other republicans want to open up public lands for drilling. Rob Bishop (R-UT) wanted to allow mining around the Grand Canyon in an area the size of New Jersey. Some idiots even proposed the idea of using the Grand Canyon as a giant landfill! Could you imagine if that actually passed? Clearly these people have no respect for preserving natural beauty and if they had it there way they would be tearing down all of the state and national parks.


Thankfully polling shows that the vast majority of Western voters, including Republicans, prefer land conservation to drilling. Anyone supporting a politician who wants to destroy our national parks clearly needs to reevaluate what’s important.


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