WATCH: New Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland Shares Video of Bison ‘Escorting’ Her Into Yellowstone National Park

by Jennifer Shea
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New Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland recently took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. And when she arrived, she got escorted into the park in style.

“As I traveled through @YellowstoneNPS last week, I was escorted by a group of bison, welcoming me to the park,” Haaland tweeted Thursday. “I am grateful to the staff and park rangers who made my first trip back to Yellowstone as Secretary of the Interior informative, engaging, and wonderful.”

On Visit, Deb Haaland Stressed Responsibility to Address Problems Like Climate Change

During her visit to Wyoming, Haaland spoke of her responsibility to address cross-border conservation problems. Climate change is one. Surging park visitation is another, WyoFile.com reports.

Haaland acknowledged that she will need to work with local and state governments to accomplish her goal. She wants to preserve Yellowstone and its ecosystem for future generations.

“Developing those relationships so that we can all make the best decisions together for that ecosystem is certainly an obligation that I take seriously,” she reportedly said on her visit.

Haaland’s agency manages roughly 32% of Wyoming’s 62.6 million acres. That’s chiefly through the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. The BLM oversees minerals across 68% of Wyoming.

Haaland’s positions on issues ranging from postponed oil and gas leasing to grizzly bear hunting differ from those of Wyoming’s governor, however. And that made her visit a politically fraught one for local officials. (Gov. Mark Gordon appears to have persuaded the Biden administration to go ahead with leasing, officials told WyoFile.com.)

But Haaland also used the opportunity to plug her administration’s investments in national parks. For instance, she pointed to the Great American Outdoors Act, which will yield $121.5 million for Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park Reaches Visitation Milestone

Yellowstone saw an unprecedented spike in visitors last month. The national park is 149 years old. And for the first time in its history, it saw more than 1 million visitors per month, the Jackson Hole Daily reports.

“We had about 1,080,000 visitors in July,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said at a recent press conference. “Record visitation.”

The park stretches over 2.2 million acres. But only 1,067 acres of that are roads. So Sholly said that while “we’ve got a large problem in many areas,” the traffic is “in a very small percentage of this park.”

The Daily notes that national park gateway communities, including Yellowstone’s, have been hit with the double whammy of housing crises and workforce shortages. And it used a cellphone location analytics service to determine that Jackson Hole is seeing even more visitors than Yellowstone itself. The town experienced a 28% jump in tourists over the past five years.

Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park have capped the number of visitors who can enter on a given day. Other parks, like Rocky Mountain, are resorting to timed entry permit reservation systems.

Outsider.com