Volunteer to Fish Yellowstone Park/Aid Native Fish Conservation Featured

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The Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteer Program was conceived in 2002 as a way Yellowstone’s biologists could acquire information about fish populations without having to travel to distant locations throughout the park and sample the populations themselves using electrofishing or other sophisticated gear. As a way to sample fish populations and address fisheries issues park biologists would otherwise not be able to do, the fly fishing volunteers use angling to gather and archive information and biological samples. For more Background

Each year, a list of projects is developed by park biologists, so volunteers can focus their efforts. Over the years, hundreds of fly fishers have volunteered with the program. These volunteers are important to the conservation of Yellowstone’s native fish in a myriad of ways. They provide data and collect samples in important project areas, as well as in areas we may not know much about. They also play an important role in communicating with the public. They interact with tourists and other fly fishers on a regular basis and are able to discuss important topics, such as park fishing regulations, the reasoning behind some of the more controversial restoration projects, and why native fish are an important resource in Yellowstone.

Applications for volunteers can be made until January 8, 2021. Selection of volunteer groups will be made in late January. Notification of continuation of the program in 2021 will be made by February 28, 2021. Operational restrictions due to the Corona Virus leave the program uncertain until then.

Volunteers should apply for their week(s) of choice. Selection of participants, and alternates if necessary, will be done by impartial lottery for each week of the program, starting with WEEK 1 (Jul 12-17) and ending in WEEK 8 (Aug 29-Sep 2). Typically, up to 4 people will be selected for each day/week given the capacity of the van and the available program campsite. You can sign up for an entire week or indicate the number of days you want to volunteer. The exact number of days you will volunteer depends on the number of applicants per week and the location where you are located (NE corner/Mammoth/Canyon/Bridge Bay/Madison). At this time, you will be responsible for your own transportation to the volunteer work sites. If the program officially goes forward, there might be transportation provided to the work sites.

 The restart of the YNP Volunteer Fly Fishing Program in 2021 is facing headwinds, but I still want to encourage you to plan to visit the park and apply to be a volunteer should the program come to fruition.

HEADWINDS – Even with the great news of COVID vaccines potentially coming available in early-to-mid 2021, there are still many unknowns facing the program’s restart. First of course is the approval and distribution of the vaccine, both to the park staff and to us. During this past year, staffing in the fisheries department was at minimum levels and those that were employed had to maintain strict social distancing protocol, especially between themselves and the public. For example, a house which had three bedrooms could only be used by one staff member. The public (volunteers) were not allowed to use bathroom/shower facilities, only park staff. Also, driving together in a single vehicle was not allowed for staff and the public, including volunteers. Second is housing/facilities – the park is in the middle of removing old FEMA trailers used to house employees and replacing the trailers with new modular housing. During the transition, housing space will be critical to support park staff. Third, and this is more a pain than a headwind, Dunraven Pass will remain closed to finish up much needed road repair causing potentially long commutes to fishing projects.

STILL INTERESTED? – Similar to last year, I would like interested volunteers to apply for the week they would like to volunteer. The program will be broken up into 8 weeks (Mon-Fri) starting Monday, July 12 and ending Friday, Sep 3. You can sign up for an entire week or indicate the number of days you want to volunteer. The exact number of days you will volunteer depends on the number of applicants per week and the location where you are located (NE corner/Mammoth/Canyon/Bridge Bay/Madison). At this time, you will be responsible for your own transportation to the volunteer work sites. If the program officially goes forward, there might be transportation provided to the work sites. Keep in mind, this is a work in progress with a lot of moving parts to put together. I will keep you updated as pieces fall into place and let you know by Feb 28, 2021 if the program is a go or a no go.

HOUSING – There is a possibility that the program campsite  will be available for folks who have a tent or RV/Trailer (20ft or less). The site could fit two 10x10 tents and accommodate a max of 4 people each week. There is no cost to volunteers to use this site, and a shower/bathroom facility is nearby if the park allows access to volunteers. So, if you choose to ask to use the campsite, I would also suggest you make reservations at a park campsite/lodging facility (Bridge Bay, Lake, Canyon Village, Mammoth, Fishing Bridge RV park) or in Gardiner/NE corner area as a backup plan. BUT, please read carefully the Xanterra cancellation policies as the program will not reimburse you for any cancellation fees you incur.

APPLICATION PROCESS – Please complete the following APPLICATION and return to me via email to me at by Friday, Jan 8, 2021. You can send the information using the attached word document, PDF, or the attached spreadsheet (preferred).

Selection of participants, and alternates if necessary, will be done by impartial lottery for each week of the program, starting with WEEK 1 (Jul 12-17) and ending in WEEK 8 (Aug 29-Sep 2). Selection will be completed and communicated by email by late January.

Typically, up to 4 people will be selected for each day/week given the capacity of the van and the available program campsite. If you are staying outside of the Lake Hotel/Bridge Bay/Fishing Bridge/Canyon area, you will be considered for the program, but will have to provide your own transportation to the project site. Those not selected for the program will be alternates and contacted by the program coordinator as projects and availability dictate.

APPLICATION (see attached for example of completed application)
First Name
Last Name
Street Address
City
State
Contact email address
Contact Phone
* Week to volunteer (see note below)
** Flex Weeks (see note below)
*** Days to volunteer (see note below)
**** Week/On call (see note below)
# Program Campsite Requested – Y/N (see note below)
## Will provide own housing – Y/N (see note below)
### General Location of housing (see note below)
& Number of people in the Group (see note below)
&& Names of those people in the group (see note below)
&&& Hiking restrictions
General comments/questions
Notes:
* Week to volunteer. ONLY 1 WEEK PER VOLUNTEER/GROUP. Weeks start on Monday and end on Friday. Volunteers can expect to meet with the program coordinator at a place TBD the Sunday evening prior to the start of the week. Projected weeks and start dates are WK1 Jul 12, WK2 Jul 19, WK3 Jul 26, WK4 Aug 2, WK 5 Aug 9, WK6 Aug 16, WK7 Aug 23, and WK8 Aug 30.
** If you are flexible on the week you want to volunteer, indicate your alternate weeks.
*** Days to volunteer. Indicate the number of days (1-5) during the week you want to volunteer. I will try to incorporate as many volunteers for each week, giving everyone hopefully 2 or more days to volunteer. On the days you are not assigned as a volunteer, you can roam the park on your own.
**** Week/On call. Similar to 9, but you live close by or will be in the park and want to be part of the program if the chance comes up.
# Program Campsite Requested – Yes/No. This is the campsite in the Lake Hotel area reserved for the program if it becomes available for volunteer use. Please note, the site is available only for those who plan to stay an entire week.
## Will provide own housing – Yes/No. Volunteer(s) will make own housing arrangements in or close to the park.
### General location. For example, staying in the park (Bridge Bay/Fishing Bridge RV Park/Canyon), Mammoth, West Yellowstone, Gardiner or Cooke City MT
& Number of people in the Group. The person filling out the application will be the primary point of contact for the group. Max of 4 people if using the program campsite. If your group is larger than 4, please indicate where you will be staying and special arrangements will need to be made for program participation.
&& Names of those people in the group.
&&& General assessment of your hiking capabilities. Projects range from 100 yard hikes to 3-4 mile hikes, with potential of some elevation gain.

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