The Greater Yellowston Area (GYA) fires of 1988 were, in the words of National Park Service (NPS) publications, the most
significant ecological event in the history of the national parks (NPS 1988). Their political consequences may be as far-reaching as their ecological consequences. The firesh ave been characterized in many ways, from natural catastrophe to ecological wonder and from policy blunder to scientific bonanza. They have generated a national dialogue that goes beyond the issue of fire in national parks and forests to more fundamental questions about the management of public lands. The term Yellowstone fires is an unfortunate oversimplification. The fires occurred in the GYA, 4.8 million ha of mostly public land in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The GYA consists of Yellowstone (YNP) and Grand Teton National Parks (GTNP), two
national wildlife refuges, and six national forests, as well as state and privately owned land (GYCC 1987).