Montana Public Radio

Yellowstone Plans Employee Housing Upgrades

Feb 20, 2020

Yellowstone National Park has unveiled a major initiative to upgrade employee housing, which park officials say is long overdue.

About half of Yellowstone National Park’s 800 employees live in park housing. Park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin describes the quality of that housing as, “Fair to poor.”

Yellowstone’s initiative includes plans to replace 64 trailers that were built between 1960 and 1983. The park says those trailers, that annually house up to 100 employees, are extremely substandard.

Warthin says there’s not enough housing, and the current housing crunch hurts workforce recruitment as park visitation has jumped 45 percent since the year 2000.

"We think our ability to really attract and retain talent in Yellowstone is strongly tied to the availability of housing options in and around the park; not only in housing options but options that are affordable and also in good condition."

An example of Yellowstone Park's proposed two-bedroom employee housing.
Credit Yellowstone National Park

Park officials are still determining how many new housing units may be needed. And officials say any new housing will only be placed in existing developed areas.

The initiative also aims to update 150 non-trailer and non-historic housing units, and plans to rehabilitate deteriorating historic homes in the park.

The park estimates the housing initiative costs will run into the tens-of millions of dollars, with funding coming from 2020 federal appropriations legislation.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the park’s overall deferred maintenance expenses estimated to exceed $500 million.