A Park Returns To Life

Ten years ago this summer, fire burned 800,000 acres of Yellowstone Park.

Many people criticized the National Park Service for letting the fires burn. Park Service policy was to let nature take its course. But when the fires worsened, the Park Service decided to bring in firefighters. Before the flames were extinguished by a light September snowfall, more than $100 million was spent on fighting the fires.

Critics said the park would never be the same. They were right. But their pessimism, many say, was misplaced.

The Web has a plethora of sites devoted to Yellowstone Park. Here are the most compelling sites on the subject.
CBS.com, in conjunction with CBS News Sunday Morning, takes a look at Yellowstone Park ten years after the fires. Beneath the spikes of blackened lodgepole pines, a new forest is growing. The bright green of ten-year-old trees dominates much of Yellowstone's landscape. Many visitors call the park rejuvenated, renewed, and more varied than ever.

Even the animals are doing well. Rangers say many animals are doing better than ever. For many species, there's more food. Grass and bugs have thrived in the burned-over forests, providing animals with a steady food supply.

So the Park Service will continue with its laissez-faire park management. "We believe that you have to do some management here but we believe that the hand on the tiller should be very light," says Mike Finley, the Park's superintendent. "Fire is a natural process like floods, it's a natural process like disease, like predation. All of these forces shape what is Yellowstone and what is the majesty of Yellowstone."

As part of this policy, the Park Service even re-introduced wolves to Yellowstone, in 1994. "We made this place whole," says veteran Park Service scientist John Varley. "That was the last species we were missing and, and we've restored them. They're doing very well."

produced by David Kohn