National parks in the Mountain West are seeing a surge in visitors. And while tourism can spell good news for struggling local economies, some are worried not only about spikes in COVID-19 cases but also added pressure on the landscape.
Take Grand Teton National Park, where they're still investigating a group of about 50 dirt bikers who, on July 18, left about 1,000 feet of tracks up to 10 feet wide in an historic area that's in the process of being restored.
National Park Service investigators are looking for information related to activities that caused significant resource damage along historic Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park recently. Call or text 888-653-0009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with tips.https://t.co/VcVwdfvg5K pic.twitter.com/yHG2k2IIZK
— Grand Teton NP (@GrandTetonNPS) July 22, 2020
"The historic hay fields along Mormon Row are part of a ten-year project that started in 2014 to remove the non-native grasses and replant the area with 37 species of native plants to restore the site to sagebrush steppe habitat," the park said in a press release. "The investment in the habitat restoration represents several years of effort to collect native seed and treat invasive plants prior to seeding the native species."
The non-profit Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands, which promotes motorized recreation on public lands, has put up a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved.
"To see something like that was very upsetting, and we really want to see these people caught," said Amy Edmonds, the group's director.
Grand Teton National Park asks that anyone with information call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or email email@example.com. Tips can be provided to the NPS anonymously.
Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Maggie Mullen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.