Yellowstone Strategic Planning


Yellowstone National Park Strategic Planning

As Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks enter the new century, they must repair an aging infrastructure while preparing for steadily increasing visitation and demands. These infrastructure repair and development costs are well over a billion dollars. How these dollars are invested has a direct impact on the Parks, the visitor experience, and the communities in the region who face their own issues of growth and preservation.


As part of the Greater Yellowstone Works project (led by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and the National Parks Department), GoldSim was used as part of the decision making process to evaluate alternatives on a range of issues.


Two examples (Canyon Loop Transportation Model and Canyon Infrastructure Model) are summarized below:

Canyon Loop Transportation Model

GoldSim was used to simulate traffic flow through the North Loop in the Canyon area. Using historical data, traffic and visitation during peak 24-hour periods were modeled. Performance was based on the ability or inability of visitors to access points of interest along route, essentially a surrogate for visitor satisfaction. Input parameters could be easily changed to examine consequences of alternative transportation policies (e.g., bus service, elimination of motorhomes and other large vehicles, and expansion of parking facilities).

Yellowstone Model Diagram

Canyon Infrastructure Model

GoldSim was used to examine the impacts on infrastructure demands due to changes in the number of visitors and concessionaires. Inputs were based on historical data (from 1997 to 2001). The model simulated water production, waste water treatment and solid waste production as a function of visitation and includes an integrated cost model. The model was used to provide a quantitative basis for testing a range of proposed infrastructure changes. For example, the model was used to determine the impacts to cost and air emissions due to converting from diesel fuel to natural gas fuel for building heat and park vehicles.


Making Better Decisions In An Uncertain World