Yellowstone Oil Spill's Effect on Tourism Yet to be Seen

Posted Jul 6th 2011 08:50 AM




The discovery of a crude oil leak into the Yellowstone River on Saturday prompted a frenzy of action - EPA workers sought to contain the slick, Exxon executives sought to contain the bad press and politicians began the inevitable tournament of fingerprinting - but no one has answered this question: What does this mean for the tourism-dependent local economy?

While the spill did not occur within the confines of the park and is headed downstream the other way, images of oil played on repeat beneath a banner reading "Yellowstone" could prove nearly as toxic to attendance as oil is to a rainbow trout.

Yellowstone National Park is not only one of the U.S.'s biggest parks, it is one of the country's most popular, hosting more than 3,000,000 visitors annually despite being somewhat hard to reach. Summer is the park's busiest season, as tourists make their way to old faithful and watch the animals - buffalo, bears, elk, and moose - wander through the trees and across the grassland.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was quick to reaction to the spill precisely because animals lack the good sense to stay within park boundaries.

"You cannot dump [oil] into a pristine trout stream without causing damage to the fisheries," he told CNN.

Local fishing guides say the stretch most profoundly affecting is not prime territory, but the town of Billings is still reliant enough on the river running through it to feel the effects of bad publicity.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still affecting the tourist economy. The scale may have been bigger, but the takeaway was clear: Vacationers are not looking to join the cleanup.

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Cry Cry Cry thats all we do and they know it but still they damage what is not there"s. These companys could careless about the petty fines they pay for there wrong doings, they just raise their prise on us and take it back. When we the people are really pissed off about things maybe we will stop crying and take back control. Now they are telling us they can"t afford the national parks so they are closing them. Next they will be selling them to the Chineese and the Arabs saying they need the money to pay our debt. What we need is a revolution to take back what is ours from these thieves and fools.

July 06 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In Texas we would just set the oil on fire and "poof" it was out of the river.

July 06 2011 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yea its about tine oil companies start payin for lost $$$$ due to thier crews and equipment

July 06 2011 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The oil spill was outside of Billings, Montana, 100 miles away from Yellowstone National Park. There is no oil spill in the National Park! Typical sensational and irresponsible reporting by this horrible "news" sector of AOL! Awful reporting!

July 06 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply


July 06 2011 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Be it big business destroying the park, or our lame politians who can't manage money any better than a insect, causing a possible shut down of all nat'l. parks. One thing is for sure thanks guys for making sure my family will not be going to yellowstone for the next 5-10 years. "We The People"? yeah right!

July 06 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply