Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yellowstone National Problem

Yellowstone National Park is an oasis of beauty, animals, geological hot spots, and rivers. The headwaters of the Yellowstone, Snake, and Missouri rivers all start in the highlands of this sanctuary. It is illegal to boat on any rivers inside the boundary of the park. This happens to be a big issue of mine. I was born in Bozeman Montana almost 20 years ago and have had this unlimited source of rivers so close to my back yard, never being able to use it.

Today I went and sat in on a court session for my little brother Nate-dog and 3 of his local friends. Due to their failed attempt of poaching almost 4 months ago all of them were sent to the headquarters of the park for judgment. They were threatened with 5,000 dollars of fines and 6 months of prison time being the highest possible punishment. After a 75 mile drive into the park and a 2 hour session in the court room they were charged with "Intent to kayak". With a $335 fine and 1 year of unsupervised probation they left the Yellowstone today for an entire year.

The Three Criminals left to right- Andy Walker, Erik Johnson, and Nate Garcia.

The gates marking no more kayaking for you.

Mammoth hot springs a huge attraction inside the park.

A nasty 70 footer yet to be hucked.

The epic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone amazing class V canyons.

Another sick slide just dormant ready to be fired.

A sick set of drops.

Slides for days on end.

A dope rapid on the river they were caught on.

Yellowstone was set aside as a place for people to enjoy the beauty, see sights, and interact with nature. With all that in mind everyday people horseback ride all the way through the areas, leaving piles of shit, and beaten paths throughout the park. Snowmobiles run their loud and unclean engines while ripping paths up and down through forests disturbing all the natural elements within this area.

The reasons why kayaking down these amazing rivers is unable to happen is safety, and ruining a national park???? What's the difference between kayaking there in the park and 2 miles away at mesa falls? or on the Hells Canyon of the boulder? Kayaking is dangerous and we do it at our own risk. This is a very easy challenge to overcome. Put up signs, warnings, and permits? Then the impact of floating down streams? It is the most environmentally friendly sport I have ever done. No crowd, no trails, no building, no burning of Fuels; it is simple.

This is an incredible place, and I as much as anyone else, want to keep it clean and beautiful for generations to come. This is a flawed rule in a book of regulations that govern the park. In such an amazing place with such world class rivers this is a resource that could be used to help the park attract visitors and then bring in more money to use. The law is the law. However laws are made to be broken:)

Keep fighting the good fight "Y.L.A. for life!"

How you know you're in Montucky.

Later E.G.


Anonymous said...

These brave comrades of the YLA should be presented with medals for their bravery. Down with non-sense legislation and up with the YLA!

Mikkel said...

It's amazing that people who know nothing about Kayaking get to decide if it's safe. I can't believe you can snowmobile in a park where you can't kayak wtf !!!

Anonymous said...

One correction on snowmobiling. You cannot "rip through the forests". Snowmobiling is allowed only on certain groomed roads, and only with a guide. (Note that a federal judge has recently ruled even that much is illegal.) Yellowstone is not an amusement park. The park service mission is to protect the resourse for future generations, not provide thrill ride opportunities. Had someone been killed, one has to wonder if there wouldn't now be a law suit against the American taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Look buddy everyone knows the rules are bullshit. Being able to pollute in the park with all the cars, moterhomes, and snowmobiles is a hundred times more destructive than a small boat ploping trough the water; tell me how that protects the resourses. Kayaking in genral as Evan stated it a sport you do at your own risk. He stated that with permits and warning signs it would be obvious its at your own risk. And it wouldnt be turning the park into a "amusement park". Rather letting individuals utilitize the park in another way and see its natural beauties. And lastly why the hell do people come on to someone personal blog where all they want to do it show there life and what they do and bash on the and leave negative comments. So next time keep it to yourself jackass.

Anonymous said...

I always knew Nagar was a criminal.

E.G. said...

Yes i knew that they made snowmobiling illegal a few years back. and grooming paths is better than just using a free flowing river that is always going to be there? na i don't follow. They did correct their error there.

And i really like that people are commenting on this issue because i have a somewhat altered opinion on this subject. so bring it everyone!

yellowstone should never be an amusement park, but it already is man. People flood the roads and trails stopping, getting close to animals, eat, drink, and shit all inside the park. They have built hotels, restaurants, gift shops, bathrooms, bridges, roads, trails, viewpoints, and parking lots all over this so called "preserved land."

In my mind that place is perhaps the greatest part of the mid mountain west. It should be preserved, but when i look at it standing back; They turned Yellowstone in to something it shouldn't be. From roads one can only see and visit about 15% of the parks land, but that 15 is pretty toasted from tourism and human impact.

Basically I believe that by allowing kayakers to use this plethora of whitewater for their sport and enjoyment, nothing would truly change? everything would remain beautiful and wild. Animals would not be affected in a harmful fashion. Yellowstone would be the same amazing place as always.

America will never be the place to truly be able to enjoy such a place as Yellowstone due to the amazing amount of lawyers, and over sensitive an greedy people ready to throw a lawsuit at anyone they can. The american person is so hell bent on wealth that if something a rye happens. I.E. an accident everything must be looked at if something is off you get sued. Fuck em'

i have too much time on my hands:) but i love kayaking more than anything else and this is a big issue in my area's kayakers so lets just poach that shit:) unless we can somehow start a court case against the USA and sue them for the right to kayak. ohhh maybe too much effort??? maybe not???

a fuckit im moving to chile

E.G. said...

that comment was kind of a rebuttal to the gentleman's comment earlier today:)

Josh Neilson said...

Wat up EG! First of all good shit boys for causing a stir in those woods! secondly, wish i was movin to chile too and last but not least... then new PINK blog is really u bro! hahaha
keep it up!

Davis Gove said...

If anything human powered recreation, which kayaking is should be encouraged in the park. Kayakers are the type of tourists that Yellowstone needs more of. More people that are experiencing the truly wild part of the wilderness, that really appreciate the remote aspect of the park.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd comment on this: ''It is the most environmentally friendly sport I have ever done. No crowd, no trails, no building, no burning of Fuels; it is simple.''

I burn fuel from my truck to get to and shuttle rivers. We burn even more when we use helicopters to shuttle... I burn fuel in my 2-stroke snowmobile to go ski touring.

The kayaking part though, is very environmentally friendly and I'm glad to be exploring BC's land of not to much regulations, yet! I think every river should be able to be paddled.

syotr, Joel.

Anonymous said...

it looks like the nagative nancy due is too scared to write back...kayakers rule

Anonymous said...

When you publish on the internet and invite comments, you should expect that some of them might disagree with you. I greatly respect EG for not simply deleting mine, as he could have done. He is obviously a gentleman who is not afraid of a disenting opinion.
Yellowstone does not have hotels, stores etc. "all over the place. It does have some (too many I would argue), but 90% of Yellowstone is back country wilderness (though not designated as such).
90% of the visitors visit 10% of the park, as they say. I wanted to comment in a respectful way and I hope that I did that. I never meant to imply that kayaking is not an environmentally friendly activity; it certainly is far more environmentally friendly than many of the activities that are, and have been, allowed. My point is that when we disagree with a law (one that we feel is BS) breaking it is not the way to change it. That just makes you a law breaker.
Regarding "at your own risk" signs etc. There are signs, pamphlets, videos etc., etc. all over the place warning about wildlife, minimum distance etc., yet the Park Service still has to deal with occasional law suits when someone gets hurt. A few rangers actually carry personal liability insurance (that they pay for themselves) to protect themselves in case someone is injured during a bear jam they are in charge of.
These frivilous cases are usually thrown out, but they are still a PITA (pain in the a**). Someone sued the Park Service several years ago because they were struck by lightning above timber line (pretty obvious risk, I'd say).
I'm sorry, but when you break the law you ARE a criminal. That's the definition of the word. Work within the law to change it; but also realize that you are not always going to get what you want. Meantime, there are plenty of great places to kayak in Montana and Wyoming that are legal.
Thanks again, EG, for letting me comment. We agree more than we disagree. Kayakers do rule, but that doesn't mean they can ignore the law.

Anonymous said...

Feeling like you should uphold a law which is unjust solely because it is a law is utterly ridiculous and rather blind. I'm all for working within the system to change it but until it is in fact changed I'm also all for breaking it.

"If we were left solely to the wordy wit of Legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among nations."

Anonymous said...

The 'American Taxpayer' is who funds Y.N.P. It is the 'American Taxpayers' to enjoy. Months out of the year of my labor and hard work goes straight to the pockets of our corrupt government. For them to tell me that I cant enjoy public land is injust and hypocritical. It is the crooked and corrupt bureaucrats who fund their salaries with our hard earned dollars who shouldn't be able to visit the park.

Just because it is a law doesn't make it right or just. Thats why civil disobedience is the only way around bullshit legislation like this.

Has there ever been a lawsuit against the U.S. Government/American Taxpayer on behalf of a kayakers death, ever? Where do you get this idea? Please respond, I am curious.

Do you work for the government? I think you do.


Anonymous said...

The punishment hardly seems to fit the crime. E.G., I hope you also use your pulpit here to condemn the actions of some of the boaters who cost other MT creekers access to Falls Creek and NEARLY cost us all access to Big Timber, too.

Anonymous said...

This is Jerry Johnson, Erik Johnson's dad. I have been involved in this rule change since the late 80's when I was also arrested for paddling in the Park - Erik is a second generation offender.

The rule is governed by the Park Superintendent. There used to be a sort of detent between the park and paddlers - you don't cause trouble and we'll charge you $150. That seemed fair. After AWA burned the evolving good relations with the Park it all went downhill. Two problems define this issue for me.

First, the rangers in the park system are increasingly geared toward law enforcement than naturalists. The incentives they recieve are based on arrests, rules, etc. That culture needs to change. The guy who arrested the boys was a jerk to them. The judge was a fair-minded guy who did his job well.

Second, critics of paddling in the park have a point when they say it would be overrun. We would certainly contribute to the things we don't like about the park but there is an easy solution. First, open the Cave Falls section. There are few users, kayakers would not intrude on the park experience and they would be concentrated and easy to manage in terms of impact. Second, start the season for the Black Canyon after Labor Day - most visitors are out and the water is very reasonable for most grade IV paddlers. You might want more rivers but that would probably satisfy most people.

Several years ago American Whitewater proposed a comprehensive plan to open the park. The attitude they brought with them virtually shut down the possibiltiy of changing the rules - they blew it.

Someone needs to step up and approach park management with a reasonable and thoughtful plan and try again - without the "help" of AWA. Do it soon, us dads of today's paddlers would like one more shot.

E.G. said...

hahahaha just once again i will tell you that i have nothing to do with either of those issues. Big T is just waiting to be shut off man. From the first time i went up there i felt that it was wrong to have to open a ranch gate and drive through private property to get there. That my friends is a bomb waiting to go off, with how popular the creek is.

And same deal with falls creek, that place is in the middle of private land. There are tons of creeks all over the world that have similar issues due to the same problem.

If someone has some land out in the mountains... they will usually want solitude and peace. Once a fired up kayaker goes there and finds a 40 footer and then it gets out. People will go looking for it. The land owners will see them and get pissed. end of story!

that goes away from the yellowstone conversation all in all i will say it once again. As an offender, that place is so great and what is done every year by poachers see no impact? running down leaving no proverbial "foot print" and enjoying the hell out of that place is no crime. Laws like this are meant to be broken. such as speeding, la mota (spanish), paying under the table, and parking signs.. well those are the only laws i can say that are moral to break. i will always be a law breaker as long as this law stands. catch me if you can. i'm rather cunning:) YLA for life

Anonymous said...

My first time in the park I went in with a buddy and 2 kayaks and I ran Lewis falls 4 or 5 times. Didn't know it was illegal and I think that's how I got away with it. Don't understand why it's illegal and it seems the torists watching wish it wasn't either.

What the Chuck said...

Dudes and Dudettes,

As a long-time warrior against the federal agencies who theoretically are 'protecting' OUR public land, there's a concept that you might think about.

It's called 'displacement behavior.' I think the previous comments about a law-enforcement mentality are right on. But here's the other thing driving park officials.

With visitation at around 3M people a year, most park officials, deep down inside, know that they're just screwed. Most of these people, of course, have little interest in actually experiencing anything real about Yellowstone. But their cars, and snowmobiles clog up the park like a traffic jam in downtown Manhattan.

In order to keep their theoretical sanity, park officials, who if they were sane would immediately quit and start suing the Hell out of the NPS to stop the constant destruction of the park, take it out on fake causes, like boating in the park. Personally, it's almost impossible for me to believe that kayaking does any resource damage, and it's also next to impossible to believe that we'd actually see significant numbers of boaters, as a.) there's almost no run in the N. Rockies that sees tons of boaters (maybe the Lochsa, and then only a couple of weekends a year) and b.) there are indeed lots of other quality runs in the area.

If there's any logic to keeping WW floating out of Yellowstone, it's because secretly, the Park Service is afraid they'd have to give in to the money and let a concessionaire run trips inside the park. Because of the enormous number of people driving through, and looking for another venue to sit their fat asses down, I can somewhat see their point. Demand would be huge, as all people really do right now is live in campground hells and foolishly take pictures of their kids next to crazed wild animals.

So -- the last thing the NPS is ever going to do is condemn commercial use and allow private use. So on the surface, in order to convince themselves that they're not craven cowards, they say 'no boating'. It's a dysfunctional insanity mechanism.

I'm like Erik's dad -- getting a little long in the tooth to jump on the real shit anymore. But I'd like to see some new Class IV - -V before I get strapped in the wheelchair and parked in front of the Home Value Network channel.

We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Yo Evan that guy called you a gentleman? He obviously doesn't know his shit. This is more drama than the last time I read dear abby. I think kayaking should be outlawed everywhere, and interacial marriages too. And hacky sack and baggy pants.
Bush 08!!

Anonymous said...

Lets face it. Small radical groups that are able to raise large amounts of money are writing the laws today. Signs,justifying fines,and fees are generating more income for the enforcement of these laws. The last thing we need are more signs and fees. Your only here once guys. Get out there and enjoy it while you still can!

Shon Bollock said...

"Then your a lawbreaker." hahahahahahahaha every kayaker is a lawbreaker who is this guy kidding. hahahaha EG poaching sounds perf. let me know when.

Anonymous said...

The issue with making rivers in the park open is really about risk and limited budgets.

If a kayaker or kayakers are killed or injured and stranded in the grand canyon of the yellowstone, who is going to have to perform the dangerous and costly rescue or body recovery? Rangers would have to staff a full time trained staff for such events and parks do not have any extra money floating about to do this. Think about all the novices that also might attempt such a run, this must give rangers nightmares.

Maybe kayakers would accept or propose a permit fee of $100-$500 for a particular run. Would this raise enough revenue to fund a water rescue staff?

Seylerc said...

It is amazing to me that some people are unable to separate kayaking down a beautiful river from Splash Mountain, or the Big Shot. We all know it isn't an amusement park, and comments relating kayaking as nothing more than a "thrill ride" obviously don't get the point. Kayaking is an amazing way to explore and see nature. In addition to that, the thrill is a kick, but some of the greatest times I have had kayaking is on runs well within my limits that gave me the feeling like I was exploring something new. You see parts of the landscape and river in a kayak that others do not, and it is something special. For those that don't already know, there is a petition to open the park. Use the link if you want to sign up: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/allow-kayaking-yellowstone-national-park/XLs9wq2D

paddletothesea said...

A difficult subject and there are many kayakers who do not want to see WW boating in the park. I've been a paddler both kayak/canoe/and sea for 46 years. I understand the need for thrill, excitement, and connection with doing drops and big water etc.

A couple of posters mentioned that there is NO boating in the park...well not really WW, but there IS boating...kayaking-canoing etc. This includes 131 sq. miles of Lake Yellowstone, 2770 + acres of Lewis Lake, 7000+ acres of Shoeshone Lake, and a few miles of the Lewis River etc.

The amount of access as far an financial amount needed to reach the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, or some of the falls in Bechler are difficult and not cost effective. DO we build a road to the bottom of GC near Canyon to allow commercial boating? What would the cost be and "damage" building a road that drops 2000+ feet down into the bottom? How about the cost of a "ramp", vehicle turnaround, parking etc etc? The bottom at Seven Mile hole...the shore has only a foot or two of being "flat"...so a huge are would have to be removed to create this.....it would look like crap in my opinion. There is nothing more amazing and jaw dropping to look off into the canyon and see its magic, beauty, wonder etc and realize no road, parking lot or whatever would provide what mo-nature has already done. Ive paddled all over the place; US, Canada, SE Asia, S. AMerica and done a few 6-month paddling expeditions. There is nothing like a place that has not changed by the hand of man. I personally would not want to spend out of my pocket the money needed to pay for a commercial outfitter to profit from my expenses. Or for the personal ego satisfaction of running the canyon. Sure boaters dont leave as much piles of shit like a horse, but I have seen many a put-in's with piles of t.p where there was no toilets and one can't tell me that a boater INCLUDING myself is going to haul out there crap when running the canyon..IM not! The trails used in the backcountry for example...are used by horse and foot...so my money used to create and maintain a trail is also being used for the horse people. Snowmobiles on the other hand are not allowed off trail, trails are not created for them specifically, they are regulated, there is already a parking lot, guides, restrictions, etc etc....I HATE snowmachines. I agree with a no car park like the Abbey comment that was made...but it's not going to happen. YOu are better off poaching if that is what you want...go for it. I don't care if you poach some of the runs, but I dont feel I should give you money to make a ramp, more parking or road access to your playground and pay for someone to make sure you are hauling your shit, not making fire rings, camping, leaving cliff bar wrappers, or rescuing you out of the bottom of the canyon. Some places should be left untouched, unspoiled and even in accessable. The park service made a mistake in naming our "preserves" "parks, because a park gives one the thought of amusement, thrill, ego challenge etc...National Preserve would have been a better title.
Expedition Paddler
Tree Hugger and poacher ;-)

Matt said...

“A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches - that is the right and privilege of any free American.”
― Edward Abbey

Matt said...

There is a lot of talk about NPS liability issues. There would be no more liability for the NPS from public use of river that the forest service has for use of rivers that fall under its jurisdiction.

Matt said...

...public use of rivers under their regulation than... oops