Environmental Management

, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 1041–1053 | Cite as

Creating Conditions for Policy Change in National Parks: Contrasting Cases in Yellowstone and Yosemite

  • Michael J. Yochim
  • William R. LowryEmail author


Public agencies face significant political obstacles when they try to change long-standing policies. This paper examines efforts by the U.S. National Park Service to change long-term policies in Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks. We argue that, to be successful, the agency and pro-change allies must expand the sphere of conflict to engage the support of the broader American public through positive framing, supportive science, compelling economic arguments, consistent goals, and the commitment of other institutional actors. We show that the agency is capable of creating these conditions, as in the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, but we argue that this is not always the outcome, as in reducing automobile congestion in Yosemite Valley.


Policy Parks Change Management 



Michael Yochim thanks his former colleagues in Yellowstone and Yosemite for their comments and their work protecting parks in changing times. William Lowry thanks the Property and Environment Research Center for funding his participation in the conference National Park Service at 100 and the comments of conference participants on a draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Park Service (retired)FentonUSA
  2. 2.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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