Yellowstone Reopens a Key Gateway After Devastating June Flooding
As residents moved around the area to secure their property, officials with the U.S. Geological Survey reopened a key gateway to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
For months, the National Park Service had warned about the possibility that the Missouri River could wash away the land behind the historic, two-mile (3 kilometers) section of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
On June 11, the river surged over the rim of the Grand Canyon—and the entire Grand Staircase-Escalante area. Within an hour, Grand Canyon National Park lost 60 percent of its historic area and all of its water.
After years of battling flood damage and the park service’s failure to keep the river’s banks in good shape, the Park Service announced the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument reopened on June 13. It was the largest area of wilderness in North America opened by direct government action since the creation of Alaska’s North Slope Borough in 1928.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante Wilderness lies between the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone’s upper reaches, a region that is highly susceptible to flooding and erosion. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument sits between the two parks’ historic rim, and is considered by many to be the most pristine section of the Grand Canyon.
In 2001, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was created to protect three-quarters of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, an area with nearly 5,000 square miles of geologic features from the prehistoric era to the present day.
With 1.3 million people estimated to visit the two parks annually, and an estimated 1,200 people from the surrounding region trapped in the canyon for more than a week, officials said the monument was a critical step toward recovery and recovery from one of the worst floods in U.S. history. Although the monument reopened, the park service expects more flooding to strike the monument in the coming