Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the July 12 issue of the Island Park News, Island Park, Idaho.
With millions of trees on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, one would think there would never be an incident in which a special tree was chopped down for use as a Christmas tree. That is not the case, however. Every year, people return to summer in the caldera and discover that someone has poached a beloved tree.
This year, it was a tree in the Buttermilk Campground, located west of Yellowstone National Park. Several years ago, the campground hosts tied a yellow ribbon around a beautiful pine tree near their RV to honor their grandson, who was in the U.S. military and serving in Iraq, according to Janet Mark.
Mark and her husband work for AuDi Campground Services, which manages campgrounds on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s Ashton – Island Park Ranger District. They’re the first to arrive at the campgrounds in the spring to test the water and make any necessary repairs before campground hosts and campers arrive.
Unfortunately, the grandson was killed in Iraq and his grandparents did not return to Island Park the next year. The new hosts took the yellow ribbon out of storage, hung it on the tree, and added a string of lights to honor the fallen soldier. More lights were added in subsequent years.
Now, the tree has been poached.
Mark and the current Buttermilk hosts, Elaine and Oliver Jones, can’t remember the names of the hosts who lost their grandson.
Anyone who knows their names, and the soldier’s name, or who has any information about the poached pine tree, should fill in the blanks by calling the newspaper at (208) 558-0267.