Balancing Communities, Economies, and the Environment in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


  • Ryan Bergstrom Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Lisa M.B. Harrington Kansas State University


Balancing the needs of local communities, their economies, and associated natural resources is critical to the long-term success of individual communities and larger regions and ecosystems. This is especially true in mountain communities which are increasingly susceptible to land use and land cover changes, and where limited knowledge exists relating to these interactions and the perceptions of local stake holders and decision makers. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), centered on Yellowstone National Park and extending through parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, is an ideal location to study the interrelations of economic growth and environmental protection due to the region's complex mosaic of private and public lands, competing natural resource uses, and rapid population growth. The objective of this study was to determine how residents of three communities within the GYE perceive, prioritize, and act upon issues of sustainability community development and natural resource management through key informant interviews. Keywords: sustainability, social-ecological systems, decision-making, perceptions, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem