GIS portfolio l Yolonda Youngs, Ph.D.

Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana)

My newest research project explores the cultural, historical, and environmental history of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) through digital media and interactive mapping platforms.  

Overview: This interdisciplinary project integrates historical GIS, cultural landscape studies, historical geography, and environmental history to create a series of GIS maps showing cultural landscape change over time (1870s to current timeframe).  These maps are paired with short, historical interpretive essays that are based in scholarly and archival research about the park to create a mobile computing application (prototype development in process for iPhone and iPads) that will increase access and improve public understanding of Yellowstone's rich cultural and human legacy.  The first phase of this project, funded through a grant by the Idaho Humanities Council, focuses on Yellowstone Lake a large, centrally located water body in YNP.  The lake was the site of some of the early tourist service development in YNP, including the park's oldest currently operating hotel and the park's only steamboat ferry service. We are currently seeking additional funding to continue this work for the projected 4 -5 year duration of the project.  

Project Goals: The research for this project will provide updated cultural landscape GIS data (GPS location of historic cultural features such as buildings, roads, and trails paired with GIS maps, satellite imagery, and historic aerial imagery) related to Yellowstone's modern tourist developments at Yellowstone Lake.  We hope to expand this to other areas of the park with additional funding and research.

Research Background: I have lived and researched in YNP for over twenty years as both a professional outdoor guide and academic researcher.  For my master’s thesis research, I located cultural-historical landscape features in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming using archival documents and field work, digitized those features in a GIS database that I created (using ArcMap 3.3), then presented that research through textual descriptions and a series of original GIS maps showing change in the cultural landscape over time. 

This verbal and cartographic ‘story’ describes development, planning, and management of the park from its establishment in 1872 to 2004. Below you will find examples of my map portfolio from this project. 

Historical GIS and Cultural Landscape Evolution