Created in 1872, when the United States was recovering from the Civil War, Yellowstone was the first of the national parks to be said to have the best views in the country. Now, home to roaring geysers, roaring waterfalls, and the country’s most abundant and diverse wildlife, it faces its biggest challenge in decades.
This week, floodwaters destroyed several bridges, washed away miles of roads and closed the park as peak tourist season approaches for its 150th anniversary celebrations. Nearby communities were submerged and hundreds of homes were inundated by the rising Yellowstone River and its tributaries.
Yellowstone officials are still calculating the damage, but based on other national park disasters they believe it could take years and more than $1 billion to rebuild the environmentally sensitive landscape, The construction season lasts only from the spring thaw to the first snow. ,
According to what park officials have uncovered and Associated Press images and video taken from a helicopter, most of the damage occurred on the streets, particularly from the park offices at Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s north entrance in Gardiner, Montana. Adder. Large sections of the highway were weakened and washed away by the Gardner River overflow. Hundreds of trail footbridges may have been damaged or destroyed.
“It’s not going to be an easy rebuild,” Superintendent Cam Sholey said during the weekdays when he showed photos of the giant road hole in the steep canyon. “I don’t think that potentially investing tens of millions of dollars or whatever in road repairs could be subject to seeing a similar flooding event later.”
According to a 2009 Rocky Mountain Climate Organization report, flooding has already caused extensive damage to other parks and threatens more than 400 national parks.