Over 150 years since it was first established, Yellowstone is known as the oldest national park in the United States. Known for its gushing geysers, spectacular sceneries, and diverse wildlife, the park has become one of Wyoming’s top touristic attractions. However, last month’s flood greatly damaged Yellowstone Park, so rebuilding would take years and cost billions of dollars.
The flood was mainly caused by unprecedented amounts of rainfall, and snowmelt caused the park’s rivers to overflow. This completely destroyed bridges and roads at Yellowstone, causing the park to be closed off temporarily. Rebuilding Yellowstone will prove to be a great challenge both financially and in terms of feasibility. First, crews can only work during the warmer months of the year due to the harsh snowy conditions. Of course, the high frequency of earthquakes in the area will make the job even more difficult. Furthermore, most of the damage was inflicted in critical areas of the park that are tricky to rebuild. These include roads such as those near the Mammoth Hot Springs, which will be particularly challenging to rebuild.
On a positive note, the Yosemite flood could be an opportunity to restructure the park and implement some much-needed changes, according to Frank Dean, president, and chief executive of the Yosemite Conservancy and a former park ranger. This restructuring can help better protect the landscape by rerouting certain roads to reduce pollution. Also, 93% of the Yellowstone National Park’s roadways have been reopened as of July 2, with tourists and visitors now having access to both the northern and southern loops. Travelers are welcome to visit Yellowstone, however, they are not allowed to drive around the park in their vehicles
The full extent of the flood damages hasn’t been measured yet, however, Yellowstone officials estimate that rebuilding could take years and cost upwards of $1 billion. Yellowstone received $65 million in emergency relief funds to help repair some of the flood damage as soon as possible. In addition, Yellowstone is set to receive funding from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) that was passed in 2020, which will hopefully help cover the rebuilding costs. The law was passed by Congress in an effort to improve infrastructure and expand recreation opportunities in national parks and other public lands. Under the GOAO, national parks will receive around $3 billion per year in funding over a five-year period.