Impacts on Visual Resources
Visual resources consist of landform (topography and hydrology) and land cover (vegetation, buildings, roads, etc.). Visual resources are centered on significant features and intrinsic features. Also included is visibility of the undertaking, such as exposure and location.
The Greater Yellowstone Area is world renown for its scenery, wildlife, wilderness, rivers, fishing, hunting, outdoor recreation opportunities, and geologic and thermal features. The natural landscape is rugged and formidable due to the rapid gains in elevation, and most of the area remains in a wilderness state. Bison and other wildlife are frequently observed meandering through the landscape.
Visual resources within
Vehicle pullouts in the park are designed for visitors to stop and experience the visual resources, and are placed in areas where bison are most frequently found – e.g., valley lowlands off the main loop roads. Some locations include the open areas within Hayden Valley, Old Faithful/Firehole area, the Madison River (past Seven-Mile Bridge), Indian Creek in the Mammoth area, the Norris Campground, Gibbon Meadows, Elk Park, and others. The view from these pullouts includes an unobstructed natural setting containing habitat desirable to bison as well as other wildlife species.
The process of capturing and/or vaccinating bison would temporarily change their natural appearance. Bison would be visibly marked with tags and peroxide stripes due to vaccination and testing procedures. These processing marks would detract from the natural appearance of the animal. This would be a short-term, moderately adverse impact on the viewer, photographer, and anyone interested in seeing bison. Capture would be a part of all alternatives except phase 2 of alternative 2. In step 3 of the modified preferred alternative, there is potential for less marking and trapping of bison, and this would be a moderate to major positive impact on visual resources.
Agency shooting of bison and some hazing operations would be visible if bison ventured beyond delineated management areas. Hunting of bison outside the park in designated SMAs is also part of alternatives 3, 4, and 7. These bison management actions would have a minor to major short-term (winter only) visual impact on the landscape, or on some viewers, who might be opposed to shooting, hunting, or hazing bison, or might be sensitive to these activities.
The existing capture and test facility would continue to intrude on the viewshed at
Capture and test facilities within the viewshed on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park would continue to adversely impact visual resources in alternatives 1, 4, 6, 7, and the modified preferred alternative. The visual impact of capture facilities at
The proposed construction of capture and test facilities within Yellowstone National Park at the Lamar Valley/Crystal Bench, Blacktail Plateau, Madison River, West Yellowstone boundary area, Old Faithful/Firehole River, and Hayden/Pelican Valleys, which is part of alternatives 5 and 6, would have a major impact on visual resources. These areas are highly sensitive to visual intrusions, and while measures would be taken to minimize impacts, the presence of these facilities would be highly noticeable.
A quarantine facility is part of alternatives 3, 4, 7, and the modified preferred alternative. Although the location or design of a quarantine facility for bison has not been determined, the facility would probably appear as large-scaled corrals and pens within which bison would be visible. Siting of a relocated capture facility and a new quarantine facility would be sensitive to views and features of the viewshed; therefore, impacts are expected to be minor.
In alternatives 2, 3, 7, and the modified preferred alternative, grazing allotments might be modified and could cause negligible to minor changes in the rural landscape near park boundaries. In the long term, cattle grazing would be modified in some allotments on lands adjacent to
Changes in the size of the bison population could affect viewers. Although negligible or minor increases or decreases in the size of the population are not expected to affect viewing, larger scale changes are. In addition, those alternatives that allow bison outside the park are likely to have a greater positive effect on viewers. Minor or moderate benefits to visitors seeking to view bison are expected from alternatives 2, 3, and the modified preferred alternative. Minor to moderate adverse impacts to visitors seeking to view bison are anticipated from alternatives 5 and phase 2 of alternative 6.
Alternatives 2, 5, and 6 include provisions for closing roads to snowmobile traffic. This would help restore the winter visual scene inside the park to a more natural one, but would adversely affect visual resources on adjacent
Did You Know?
There are more people hurt by bison than by bears each year in Yellowstone. Park regulations state that visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from bison or elk and 100 yards away from bears.