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Federal agencies seek public input for the Greater Yellowstone Area's future

Federal agencies seek public input for the Greater Yellowstone future

JACKSON, Wyo. - The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee invited the public to Jackson in an effort to craft a path to the area's future Monday.

The GYCC is comprises 11 entities of four federal agencies -- the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The group manages more than 15 million acres of federal land in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Monday's meeting was meant for the agencies to develop and strengthen its working relationships with the public and the area's stakeholders.

Dan Wenk is the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, but he's also the chair of the GYCC. He said it's been a long time since the Committee got the public's pulse.

"What should our priorities be? How should we work with the public? How should we collaborate?" said Wenk.

The ecosystem was also a topic of discussion. Caroline Byrd, executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said her organization is essentially the voice of the area's ecosystem, so she's encouraged.

"People want to be engaged, people want to collaborate," said Byrd. "There's so many shared values around the wildlife, the water and the landscape, so I think it's going to be very fruitful."

Another stakeholder, Christy Lewis, represented the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition. The group is focused on reducing petroleum use in the area.

"So many people road-trip here, and you have 3 million people coming through a year," said Lewis. "Reducing the emissions of those visitors is huge, and national parks really have to assist in that."

Lewis said the relationship between the stakeholders and the GYCC is imperative.

"Really, there's a lot we can't do without them, and they can't do without the help of us," said Lewis. "I think that's true for all of the organizations represented here."

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