Today was a bitter-sweet day, as I ventured into the park for the first time by myself. Initially, I felt proud to have the word "staff" written across my shirt, and just excited to be in one of my favorite places on earth. I was silent and went into complete observation mode. It amazes me that life thrives here, in such a harsh and dynamic area. Unfortunately though, I was more taken back by the lack of respect of the park visitors. We all hear the stories, but today I was a witness to some really poor human behavior.
I hadn't been at Mammoth Hot Springs for more than 20 minutes when I saw a woman take a piece of travertine (the chalky white rock of the terraces) and walk away with it. I literally couldn't believe what I had just seen. "ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME, DO YOU KNOW HOW OLD THAT IS? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU JUST DID? DO YOU KNOW THAT IS ILLEGAL?" I was fuming.
I spent most my morning filling my coat pockets with garbage from around the parking lot and terraces, and in the afternoon, I saw crowds of people literally running at a herd of elk to get their stupid selfies.
So, here we go. Here's my PSA:
It is up to US, as in you, me, and the whole damn world to preserve these incredible places. If people keep taking chunks off of the thermal features, and throwing their garbage on the ground, soon we won't have a park for the future generations to enjoy and learn from.
Yes, I'm aware at how nerdy and emotional I sound, and I bet you're thinking, "Girl, calm down. You're getting a little radical," but the truth is, and Robert Swan said it best, "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."
Please, leave the thermal features, and all that is wild alone. Not only are you destroying millions of years of nature at work, but it's also highly illegal. And pick up after yourselves, or if you see garbage on the ground, pick it up.
It is up to us to be good stewards and teach each other, and the younger generations about being respectful of these wondrous places and their inhabitants. My first solo trip into Yellowstone wasn't as magical as I hoped it would be, but it really solidified the direction I was headed towards with my work. I think many people lack the education about Yellowstone, and my goal is to simply educate people about the park and other wild places through photographs. I guess this means more adventures. Cheers to that.