Interior Secretary Gale A.
Norton applauded the decision today by the World Heritage Committee
to remove Yellowstone National Park from the List of World Heritage
in Danger in recognition of the progress the United States has made
in addressing key issues that led to the listing of the park in 1995.
"I am gratified that the committee recognized the major commitment
we have made to one of our nation's greatest natural treasures and,
in fact, highlighted our efforts as a model for other countries to follow,"
Designated by the committee as a World Heritage site in 1978, Yellowstone
was placed on the danger list in 1995, with the support of the U.S.
government, in response to various threats to the park's ecosystem,
chief among them the plans to develop the New World Mine project near
The committee is the governing body of the 176-nation World Heritage
Convention, to inventory, recognize, and protect irreplaceable properties
of outstanding universal significance, such as Yellowstone. The United
States was the first nation (or "State Party") to ratify the
Convention in 1973, and Yellowstone is one of only 20 properties listed
from the United States.
In reaching its decision, the committee stated that it, "recognizes
the progress made in addressing all the key issues that led to danger
listing of the site in 1995 and considers that the reasons for retaining
the site on this list no longer exist."
"President Bush has made a major commitment to the stewardship
of our national parks, including $2.9 billion over the past two years
to reduce a longstanding maintenance backlog," said Assistant Secretary
of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson. "Together
with our partners, we are working hard to take care of our parks and
provide visitors with better facilities and services."
In recent years, the U.S. government has allocated considerable sums
of money to address the critical needs of the park, including a congressional
appropriation of $65 million in 1996 to buy out the New World Mine.
From 1995 to 2002, the base budget for Yellowstone National Park has
increased 40 percent from $19.1 million to $27 million. For example,
the Park Service spent more than $400,000 to conserve native Yellowstone
cutthroat trout, which are being threatened by non-native lake trout.
In addition, since 1999 about $11 million has been spent or committed
to upgrading sewer systems in the park. During the same period approximately
$50 million has been spent repairing, rehabilitating or reconstructing
roads in Yellowstone.
"We could not be happier with the decision by the committee,"
NPS Director Fran Mainella said. "We know how much progress has
been made at Yellowstone and we pledge to continue to assure that it
is never again necessary to place it on the danger list."