Yellowstone floods could be flushing sewage into the park’s iconic river
This article originally appeared in Field & Stream .
Yellowstone National Park’s fishing seasons opened on Memorial Day weekend. But, they were soon disrupted by record flood .. Yellowstone’s waterways were flooded by more than three inches of rain and five inches of snowmelt.
According to park officials, more 100 bridges were damaged than they were. Giant sections of road near the North Entrance are missing. Other places have whole trees washed across the road. The National Park Service (NPS), which was forced to close all parks entrances, evacuated thousands of people due to the flooding. Despite the fact that the park’s iconic infrastructure was severely damaged, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
Park officials believe that flooding caused damage to the park’s sewer system and discharged human waste directly into the Yellowstone River. Cutthroat trout can be found in the Yellowstone River. It is currently the spawning season of the native trout species. Officials from the park say it’s too soon to determine what impact it will have on river ecosystems.
“We are not 100 sure [sewage leaked into the river].. Cam Sholly, Yellowstone National Park superintendent, says that we won’t know until we see it. “We’re assuming that it’s the case, and we are taking measures to mitigate it if a discharge is occurring.”
Local outdoor business, including fly shops are struggling due to cancelled trips and a bleak outlook for the remainder of the season. Josh Mills, the Conservation Partnership Coordinator at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, has started an auction called #FliesForRelief, which will provide emergency relief funds to local fishing guides whose livelihoods have been impacted by the natural disaster.
The park’s northern end sustained the most damage, as shown in aerial footage released the NPS. The southern end of the park will likely reopen later in the summer, while the northern end will not. When half of the park reopens, the NPS will consider a visitor cap system or reservation system. Before that happens, however, the NPS must complete a comprehensive assessment of the park’s damage. The park’s southern portion is still closed.
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