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NPS, YNP, Yell 35700

Now inactive, handkerchief Pool, was a visitor favorite because of its ability to suck down handkerchiefs and eject them washed and clean.

highly irregular due to vandalism that clogged its vent (Bryan 1995).

Handkerchief Pool, in the Black Sand Basin, was well- known for its ability to suck down items of clothing and spit them back up in a few minutes, scrubbed and clean. It’s activ- ity ceased in 1926 as a result of a log shoved into its vent. Nonetheless, visitors continued to throw objects into the pool. When the pool was first cleaned in 1929, more than one and a half bushels of debris were removed, including handkerchiefs, coins, more than 100 hair pins, nails, bolts, a horseshoe and other various items. In 1950, George Marler cleaned the spring, removing the log and gravel that had washed into the spring. Although water flowed once again into the pool, it was forever changed by the long period of inactivity during which algae mats encroached on its rims (Whittlesey 1988, Bryan 1995).

There is little doubt that park development such as road building, subsurface utility emplacement, and the construction of boardwalks has affected thermal features. Many roads are located next to or directly on top of geothermal areas. There is, however, little information on the impacts of development on specific features except for the personal communications of


Steaming pavement after the 1959 hebgen lake earthquake, Fountain Paint Pots area, Yellowstone National Park.

Aerial view of the upper Geyser Basin, 1968. development of facilities such as roads, structures, walkways, and paths in thermal areas has probably damaged some thermal features.

George Marler and U.S. Geological Survey employee Robert Fournier. Beehive’s Indicator, a small geyser located a few feet from Beehive Geyser, commonly erupted immediately before activity at Beehive Geyser began until its vent became plugged with sand and gravel in 1953. Marler, who attributed the plug to altered drainage patterns caused by boardwalk construction that diverted runoff from Giantess Geyser, attempted to clean out the debris. Bryan described Beehive’s Indicator as active but irregular in the mid-1990s. Marler also noted that a road had been built over the base of the Great Fountain Geyser, much of which had been physically “hacked away” and removed during the construction process “despite extensive, suitable, adjacent terrain.”

Fournier worked closely with park maintenance staff, advising them on issues regarding hot spring activity. In a 1971 letter to Superintendent Jack Anderson, Fournier identi- fied issues that presented maintenance problems and offered solutions that would minimize damage to thermal features. In particular, he noted the futility of building roads atop active springs. The chemical-rich water and release of carbon dioxide gas eventually breaks down the pavement above the spring, a fact made evident by the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake. In his correspondence, Fournier referred to road deterioration resulting from spring activity in the Chocolate Pot area. He suggested designing a drainage system made of coarse gravel that would preserve the spring’s natural activity but allow the water to drain to the edge of the roadbed. He also suggested covering the gravel with plastic sheeting to vent the gases away from the road.

Although the full extent of impacts resulting from tour- ism is poorly documented, these examples indicate that public access to thermal features, especially popular ones, can cre- ate significant problems. It is probable that intentional acts of vandalism by park visitors represent only a very small minority of Yellowstone’s visitors, and that the great majority of visi-

17(1) • 2009

ellowstone Science



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