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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to William R. Lowry.

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Yochim, M.J., Lowry, W.R. Creating Conditions for Policy Change in National Parks: Contrasting Cases in Yellowstone and Yosemite. Environmental Management 57, 1041–1053 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0677-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0677-3

Keywords

  • Policy
  • Parks
  • Change
  • Management