The Institute was the lead plaintiff in a case against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Park Service (NPS).  The case was meant to test whether those agencies violated public trust doctrine, common sense, and their responsibilities of stewardship in  Yellowstone National Park by making agreements with private  corporations to access and commercialize the biodiversity of that  national park. The Institute won part of its case:  in 1999, DOI was required to do an environmental assessment of proposed benefits-sharing policies in the National Park System. In 2006, the  Department of Interior issued a draft environmental impact statement on the topic. Public comment was invited. Three years later, NPS replied to the thousands of comments it had received. In late 2009, the agency issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the public - after almost a decade of waiting - had the opportunity to judge whether its concerns had been addressed. The Institute, together with other groups, shared its continuing concerns in a press release and a long letter to Jon Jarvis, head  of NPS.

If you wish to be informed of new developments related to benefits sharing, send your  email address to <> and put “New Benefits Sharing Details” in  the subject line of your email.
Please note that this website does not include all the details of all the  aspects of the Yellowstone case. Much of the legal struggle has involved litigation over the freedom of information and the Institute’s fight to discover what exactly was happening in the national parks.

For information on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), see the  FOIAdvocates website, . That site is a project of two attorneys, one of whom - Daniel Stotter - is the FOIA advocate for the Edmonds Institute’s Yellowstone case.

For further (non-FOIA) details on the Yellowstone case, follow the links below:


Media Coverage

The Yellowstone case has been covered by the New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Washington Post, Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Science, Associated Press, United Press International, ABC News, CNN, NPR and a host of other national, regional, and local newspapers, magazines, and media outlets.

See, for example (links provided where available):

"Park Deal: Some Call it 'Biopiracy'", Sunday, November 9, 1997, Salt Lake Tribune

"Judge Halts Yellowstone Bioprospecting, Ruling That Public Input Was Bypassed", Friday, March 26, 1999, Salt Lake Tribune

"Microbe Suit Puts Park in Hot Water", Friday March 6, 1998, Salt Lake Tribune

"Yellowstone: A Gold Mine of Microbes", Sunday, July 21, 1998, page 1, the Washington Post

"The Secretive Sale of Yellowstone's Natural Resources", May 31, 1998, In These Times

"Bid to block Yellowstone enzymes deal", March 1998, Nature, volume 392, page 117