History - Yellowstone is Burning: Managing Yourself and the Fires

In 2008, to commemmorate the 20th anniversary of the Yellowstone fires, NPS Fire and Aviation Management, in partnership with the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, commissioned a history project to capture knowledge, lessons learned and memories from the seminal event that changed NPS fire management.

It boggles the mind to think about the tens of thousands of decisions, large and small, that were made in managing the fires in Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 1988.

President Reagan holds a map of Yellowstone while looking at Secretary Hodel to his right.

Secretary of the Interior Don Hodel briefs President Reagan about the fire situation in Yellowstone National Park in 1988. Secretary Hodel spoke to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center about “Political Fires” for the 20th anniversary of Yellowstone ‘88.

Managing Yourself and the Fires - Introduction

It boggles the mind to think about the tens of thousands of decisions, large and small, that were made in managing the fires in Yellowstone Park during the summer of 1988.


General J.B. Taylor — It Happens at Every Level

During the Yellowstone fires General Taylor was the commander of the Joint Military Task Force- Yellowstone. In the following podcast, General Taylor describes the After Action Review process he and his troops regularly used while on their Yellowstone assignment.


Dave Poncin — Reflections of a Type 1 Incident Commander

In 1988, Dave Poncin's fire team returned to Yellowstone Park for three tours of duty.


Dan Sholly — No Dozer Line Ever Held

As Chief Ranger of Yellowstone Park during 1988, Sholly dealt many vexing issues affecting fire operations with one of the most contentious being weather to use bulldozers to help control the fires.


Yellowstone Interview Montage

“Voices from the Past – Lessons for the Future” Learn from wildland fire, U.S. Army and media professionals who were a part of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. This video was shown at 1988 Yellowstone Fires and Beyond Conference on Sept. 24, 2008.


Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Your Performance

What do Tiger Woods and Chris Rock have in common? They both became exceptional through using a process called deliberate practice. In this podcast, you will learn what deliberate practice is and how you can use it to improve your own performance as a fire manager.


Rick Gale — Reflections of an Area Commander

During 1988 Rick Gale spent 7 weeks as an area commander in West Yellowstone Montana. The following podcast is a series of vignettes of Rick's experiences working the Yellowstone fires.


Bob Gibson and Bob Barbee — Laughter is the Best Medicine

In 1988 Bob Gibson, Forest Supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest, and Bob Barbee, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent, effectively used humor to decrease stress and increase resiliency.


Don Hodel — The Political Fires

In the following podcast, Don Hodel, Secretary of the Interior during President Reagan's second term in office, describes how he used a discretionary decision making process to support fire managers.