Perhaps no natural landscape within the U.S. is more revered than Yellowstone National Park. Yet nearly since its designation as the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone has also been the source of bitter and emotional conflict, including contentious debates over land use, wolf protection, bison management, and fracking.
In a new book, “The Battle for Yellowstone: Morality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict
,” Yale Professor Justin Farrell
makes the case that these conflicts, while often framed in scientific and economic terms, in truth have deeper cultural, moral, and spiritual roots. The book was called “The most original political book of early 2015” by The Economist
In an interview, Farrell explains some of the cultural and moral forces that fuel these conflicts, describes one crisis that was resolved after two very different groups were able to work together, and explains why Yellowstone still galvanizes such passion.
”Yellowstone is a symbol for so much more than just what’s happening inside those invisible boundaries,” says Farrell, an associate professor of sociology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “And as our first national park, this is where this debate started. So there are many emotions charging it.
“It’s really just a touchstone for so many other important political issues.”