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News for December 4, 2021

Understaffed Yellowstone Faces Problems As Visitor Numbers Rise

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“We have a very, very large problem in a very small percentage of this park,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly.

According to a report, Sholly is examining 1,750 acres of pavement to find solutions to the growing traffic congestion.

It’s about finding a balance between giving visitors an experience that lasts one’s lifetime while also safeguarding the delicate ecosystem of the park.

In September, 4.47 million people visited the park. The 2021 summer season in Yellowstone was not just notable because of the record amount of visitors, but it also demonstrated the impact of growing crowds and its implications on the park’s future.

“The staff is under a substantial amount of stress that comes with managing that level of visitation,” Sholly said.

Although it had hired more employees than in 2020, Yellowstone was understaffed through the entire summer, largely due to the COVID-19 caps on housing for employees and its inability to recruit enough workers to fill the vacant positions allowed.

“The workforce shortage that a lot of businesses experienced throughout the country — that hit Yellowstone, especially with some of the food and beverage operations and trying to keep employees and keep service levels where they’d normally be,” Sholly said, was an issue he considered “especially challenging.”

When there is an astronomical growth in visitors in one year, there’s an effect that spreads across every part of the park. The trash cans are filling up more quickly, bathrooms require regular clean-up, while parking areas get filled up at an unusual rate.

It’s unclear what resolution there is to the workforce’s supply next year, as COVID-19’s precautions may remain in play.

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