According to officials in Yellowstone National Park, the park-wide fire danger has now increased to “very high,” per the National Park Service. So far, there have been three wildfires in the park this year, and all have been either put out or contained. Currently, there are no fire restrictions in place or planned in the park.
Although Yellowstone National Park is under a wildfire risk, campfires are still allowed in designated fire rings in frontcountry-developed campgrounds and day-use picnic areas. However, all campfires must be cold to the touch before leaving the campsite.
Yellowstone Park rangers are reminding campers to “soak, stir, feel, repeat.” In addition, park officials revealed that “The Greater Yellowstone area is a “fire-adapted ecosystem” and that “Fire plays an important role in maintaining the health of this area’s wildlife habitat and vegetation.”
Recently, three new large fires were reported in the western states. There were two in Idaho and one in Montana. More than 13,000 firefighters have been deployed to wildfires across the country.
Throughout the years, fire has been a critical element in forming the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Per the NPS, “several native plant species evolved adaptations so they survive and, in some cases, flourish after periodic fires.”
As it turns out, fire changes ecosystem processes, including “nutrient cycling” and “plant community composition and structure.” With this, the NPS attempts to alter fire as a “natural process” in parks.
Famous geyser in Yellowstone National Park goes quiet
As fire danger comes to a head, the park is also dealing with another problem: the park’s famous Steamboat Geyser appears to be going quiet. According to officials, there hasn’t been a single eruption during August. In addition, only eight were reported over the whole of 2022.
Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser, with its vast eruptions shooting out water more than 300 feet into the air. It is one of over 500 geysers in the park.
Geysers have the potential to erupt whenever there is heat, water, and a natural plumbing system formed by cracks in underground rock. For instance, when water from rain and snow gets underground, it makes contact with molten rock beneath the surface. This later causes the water to heat up and makes its way back to the surface.
The park has had an influx of geysers because it’s perched on a supervolcano, providing the necessary heat.
However, from September 2014 through March 2018, the Steamboat Geyser did not erupt once. As a result, it was dormant for around three-and-a-half years.
Then, from 2018 to June 2022, the geyser became active. It was shooting water high into the air, sometimes multiple times per month. In 2019 it even smashed its record for the number of eruptions in one year, spouting water 48 times. Its previous record, set in 2018, was 32.
However, on June 20, the geyser activity ended abruptly.