Cam Sholly, still in his first year as superintendent, doesn’t foresee any dramatic changes in Yellowstone National Park operations, dismissing talk of limiting access to the Park in the busiest summer visitation days.
Cameron “Cam” Sholly has kept a pretty low profile since replacing Dan Wenk as Yellowstone superintendent last June, preferred to spend his time listening to Yellowstone stakeholders. And there are a lot of them, both within the Park and outside. Sholly assumed his post under some cloudy circumstances not of his making. Dan Wenk, his popular predecessor, staked out an ambitious agenda and accomplished many parts of it, including a bison-management plan produced in association with the Fort Peck Reservation and more efficiently managing invasive lake trout. But Wenk’s removal was crudely handled and the result, Wenk said, of political pressures from the Trump Administration.
The uproar soon ceased after Sholly took the reins, and after months of evaluating the current state of Yellowstone National Park operations, it sounds like he’s ready to move forward with some initiatives related to the visitor experience. While that doesn’t mean limiting the number of vehicles and visitors to Yellowstone at peak times, it does mean overhauling Yellowstone National Park operations to address the traffic. From the Powell Tribune:
“Let’s think about that one for a minute,” he said. “Five entrances, 2.2 million acres — bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined — but at any given time 60 percent of the visitation is in the western corridor. Am I going to say there’s a daily visitation cap, we’re closed, you can’t come in? No. We’re not considering that right now.”
Instead, Sholly is looking at traffic solutions where needed. He used large sports events as an analogy: When tens of thousands of sports fans arrive and depart an arena, there’s traffic support to help alleviate congestion. He hopes to better manage the park’s high traffic areas with arena-style support, as well as additional signage.
Sholly also promises transparency: “There will be no secrets with what we’re trying,” he said.
Staffing levels have either stayed steady or dropped as the park has gone from the 3 million visitors to 4 million in the past five years, he said. Not expecting increased staffing, Sholly is focused on reallocating his resources to where they’re needed to help decrease stress over parking and increase visitor enjoyment.
We’ll be eager to hear more about specifics to upgrading Yellowstone National Park operations in coming months.
Photo by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.
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