Yellowstone Treatment of Tour Group Draws Complaints

By Beacon Staff

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Some tourists to Yellowstone National Park are complaining about their treatment by National Park Service rangers when the park was closed down last week because of the partial federal shutdown.

One tour guide operator went so far as to say rangers used “Gestapo tactics” in the treatment of his tour group.

Gordon Hodgson, of Provo, Utah, described one confrontation with a ranger where his tour group was prevented from taking pictures of bison along a road.

Pat Vaillancourt, of Salisbury, Mass., was a member of the tour group. She says some foreign members of the group felt they were under arrest because armed rangers ordered them confined to the lodge when the park was closed Oct. 1.

National Park Service officials in Washington didn’t immediately comment on the matter.

Citations Issued in Grand Teton, Yellowstone

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — National Park Service rangers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks have been issuing trespassing citations to people found in the parks, which have been shuttered amid the budget impasse in Washington.

“We have issued nine citations,” Grand Teton park spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said Monday. The citations have primarily been over the last two days, she said.

In addition to assessing fines, rangers have warned other park visitors and turned still others around, Anzelmo-Sarles said.

Anzelmo-Sarles didn’t have the dollar amount of the fines handy.

In addition to closure violations, citations for taking a vehicle off-road and for resource damage have also been issued in recent days, she told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

In Yellowstone National Park, there have been no “widespread” issues regarding closure violations, spokesman Al Nash said.

“I know a few citations have been written,” Nash said. “We do have a fairly robust boundary patrol in conjunction with hunting season on land surrounding the park.”

The national parks closed last week after Congress and the White House deadlocked over spending priorities and the new health care law.

About 510 National Park Service employees in both parks have been furloughed.

People cited for trespassing in Grand Teton included cyclists, runners and drivers taking vehicles around temporary barricades.

“For the most part, people have been very good and we appreciate the help of the local community,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. “There is still a very small percentage of people who have lashed out and actively tried to violate closures.”

One person earned a citation after an illegal excursion ran long and his tardiness returning worried his friends.

“There was one individual on (Saturday) who was given a citation after biking to Death Canyon and then running into Alaska Basin with the intent to run down Cascade Canyon,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. “The trail runner was delayed in returning so his friends called to notify law enforcement that he was overdue.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.