I visited Yellowstone National Park with my family in 2005. At the time, I wasn’t too eager about the trip, but once we made it home I knew that I would always cherish what I had learned and seen of that beautiful place. During my visit, many park rangers talked extensively of the 1988 fire. I learned how important natural fires are to the life cycle of the forests and meadows in Yellowstone, and I could still see the effects of that fire in some places, but I never really knew the extent of that fire until reading this book.

The Great Yellowstone Fire by Carole G. Vogel and Kathryn A. Goldner describes the park, the animals, the fire, and the effects of the fire in a very concise but descriptive manner. The beautiful photographs effectively illustrate the story such that the reader might actually be at the park talking with a park ranger. We learn that fire is important to clear away all of the dead vegetation and make room for new plants, and that fire helps to open the pinecones of lodgepole pine trees and scatter the seeds that will plant new trees. In the park, firefighters only put out the fires that are created by humans, and the natural fires are left to do their jobs. However, in July of 1988 during a very dry summer, the natural wildfires began spreading uncontrollably so that park officials decided to begin fighting all fires. Firefighters recruited from across the country use every available method to fight the fires, but by September the fires reach Old Faithful Village. The historic buildings were saved with brilliant emergency plans and efficient firefighting, and on September 11th snow began to help put out the fires. A harsh summer was followed by a harsh winter, but nature knew what to do once spring came again.

This book is a beautiful example of the glory of Yellowstone National Park. Vogel and Goldner have proven the importance of all our national parks and reminded us that even the scariest changes are necessary.

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