Category Archives: Glacier National Park

Glacier loses century-old Sperry Chalet in Sprague Fire – Updated 09/03/17

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According to the Incident Information System, “Thursday afternoon at approximately 6:00 pm, the main building at the Sperry Chalet was lost to the Sprague Fire. A highly skilled group of firefighters were staged at the Sperry Chalet over the last week. Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the Chalet. The high winds experienced this afternoon pushed the fire to the east. The firefighters, supported by 3 helicopters, made a valiant stand to save the structure but were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet. The firefighters remain on site, ARE SAFE, and are currently actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures.”

The other structures are a dining room/kitchen, maintenance, and restroom building. 

Nearby Lake McDonald Lodge was closed for the remainder of the season August 29 due to air quality concerns.

One of two back-country chalets built by the Great Northern Railway (now BNSF), Sperry opened in 1914. It featured 17 private rooms. Unlike Granite Park Chalet, Sperry provided linens and meals. The rooms had no heat, water, or electricity. Guests were advised to bring flashlights since candles were not permitted.

Sperry photo

The chalet was listed on the National Register in 1977.

Aftermath:

InciWeb Update: September 3: “Based on recommendations from the Sprague Fire Incident Management Team, Glacier National Park has issued an Evacuation Order effective September 3, 2017 at 10 am for all residents and visitors from the south end of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. This includes the Lake McDonald Lodge, concession housing, Kelly Camp Area, and the Avalanche and Sprague Creek Campgrounds. Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the park. The duration of the evacuation is unknown at this time.”

See FIREFIGHTERS PREPARING FOR THE WORST AT GLACIER PARK’S LAKE MCDONALD LODGE

Fire Map as of September 3:

 

–Malcolm

 

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Glacier Park and Flathead Forest to Expand Visitor Use Research

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from NPS Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER, MT. – This summer, Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest are expanding visitor use monitoring efforts to better understand use along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River.

Flathead River – Wikipedia photo

For the past five years, Glacier National Park has been collecting data on trail, and road use along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and surrounding trails. This year, with a donation from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, monitoring will expand to the river and several other places within the park. The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park both manage segments of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. The other locations to be monitored include the North Fork, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Goat Haunt, and Belly River.

The data, collected by the University of Montana, has been valuable to Glacier National Park as visitation has increased dramatically. With several years of data in hand, the park can now better inform visitors about how to plan their trips with crowding in mind, and also make educated decisions about where to station staff to best meet park needs.

“For the last few years, we have heard at our annual meetings with North Fork residents that river use seems to be increasing,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber. “This information will allow us to better understand how much, where and when use is occurring. It will help us to better plan for proper facilities and management.”

“This is the sort of thing we could not do alone,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “With the expertise from the University of Montana and the financial support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, we are conducting cutting edge research about the way our public lands are used here in northwest Montana.”

Monitoring technology used in the park and now expanded to the Flathead National Forest along the Flathead Wild and Scenic River include: tube counters placed along roads and trails, and camera counters that enable the calibration of mechanical counters and estimation of river use levels.

The data collected will better help the park and forest understand visitor use outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor, including the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. This information will establish baseline visitor use numbers which in turn will inform future planning efforts such as a Backcountry/Wilderness Stewardship plan for the park, and a joint Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan for the park and forest.

Glacier Park’s 2017 Entry Pass Features First Blackfeet Ranger

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from NPS Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER, MT. – The 2017 Glacier National Park annual entrance pass is now available at park entrance stations and the park headquarters building in West Glacier.

The pass depicts the image of Francis X. Guardipee, the first Blackfeet Native American to serve as a ranger in Glacier National Park. Guardipee became a ranger in 1930. His duties took him throughout the park, including Two Medicine, Nyack, and winters in East Glacier. He retired in 1948 and spent his retirement in Browning with his wife, Alma. He was a dedicated Boy Scout troop leader, and when he died in 1970, had spent more than half a century leading Boy Scout Troop 100. Chief Lodgepole Peak was named in honor of Guardipee in 1973. The peak is located in the Two Medicine area of the park.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation that allows the park to collect entrance and camping fees, and retain 80 percent of the collected revenue. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress.

The entrance pass in 2017 will be $50. The $5 fee increase over the $45 2016 annual pass reflects input from the civic engagement process Glacier National Park implemented in November 2014 following a nationwide National Park Service review of fees. No other entrance or campground fees will change this year.

The funds generated by fees are used for projects that enhance visitor services and facilities, including interpretive programs at campgrounds, the backcountry campsite reservation program, repair and restoration of trails, restoration of wildlife habitat, improvement and replacement of restroom facilities, preservation and maintenance of roads, and shuttle bus operation and maintenance. To learn more about the types of projects funded with user fees, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/management/yourdollarsatwork.htm.

For more information on entrance and camping fees, please visit https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/fees.htm

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s novels The Sun Singer, Mountain Song, and Sarabande are partially set in Glacier National Park as is one of the short stories in Emily’s Stories.

Glacier Park Foundation Creates Historical Orientation Program for Hotel Employees

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Guests at Glacier National Park’s historic hotels often ask employees questions about the old lodges, but as years go by and more and more old timers disappear from the scene, that information is no longer common knowledge. To address this fact, the Glacier Park Foundation (GPF), a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the historic hotels, is creating a historical orientation program with handout booklets for employees.

Many Glacier Hotel lobby - Barry Campbell photo

Many Glacier Hotel lobby in 2013 – Barry Campbell photo

The majority of the hotels’ employees are seasonal and, while the mix has changed over the years, they are traditionally college students who work a few summers and then move on to careers in and out of the hospitality field. These employees (bellmen, maids, waiters, housemen, boat crew) generally interact with guests more often than the professional management staff and should be able to make good use of the handbooks.

Author an historian Day Djuff–who worked at the Prince of Wales Hotel–was the lead writer for the foundation’s first two handbooks which were distributed this past summer at Glacier Park Lodge and the Prince of Wales Hotel. Djuff also gave the employee orientations. A GPF director, Djuff is the author of Glacier/Waterton in a Snap and, with Chris Morrison, View With a Room, a well-researched history of the lodges.

The twenty-page handbooks will include information about the hotel’s history, personalities, art and architecture, and stories along with a timeline of notable events.

GPF president John Hagen said that the Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald lodge handbooks should be ready for the 2017 season, with the Swiftcurrent and Rising Sun handbooks ready as early as 2018.

According to Hagen, “Ray Djuff will give the orientation talk at Many Glacier, and Mark Hufstetler (another GPF director, Lake McDonald alum, and a professional historian) will give the talk at Lake McDonald” in 2017.

The hotels are operated by concessionaires selected by the National Park Service. Glacier Park, Inc. and Xanterra’s Glacier National Park Lodges, the park’s primary hospitality companies, have endorsed the GPF project.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is a former Many Glacier Hotel bellman and a lifetime member of the Glacier Park Foundation. His article about the 1964 flood at the park appeared the National Park Service’s A View inside Glacier National Park: 100 years, 100 Stories (2009) and in Glacier from the Inside Out: Best Stories from the “Inside Trail,” an anthology edited by Ray Djuff and Chris Morrison (2012). The “Inside Trail” is the foundation’s magazine.

 

 

Public Invited to Celebrate the Centennial Of The National Park Service At Glacier National Park

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from NPS Glacier National Park

Park Entrance Fees Waived for August 25 –August 28

Entrance fees to the Park, as well as all other units of the National Park Service, will be waived for four days.

NPScentennialWEST GLACIER, MONT –On August 25th celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. The celebration is as much a reflection on the importance the national park system has played in our nation’s heritage as it is an opportunity to look forward to the next 100 years. As we take that look,we must do everything we can to foster the next generation in becoming outstanding stewards and advocates for Glacier National Park and prepare them for the future challenges of protecting its natural resources, celebrating its cultural legacy, and providing for outstanding visitor experiences.

At Glacier, we are in the forever business, always taking that long look forward to where we are headed. The next generation will be challenged by managing the parks in the face of climate change. For this park it could mean the loss of its remaining glaciers with significant impacts on the ecosystems and the waterways which originate from here. The next generation will also face an ongoing change in park demographics.This could mean a demand for new recreational experiences, adapting to increases in visitation, and adjusting to rapidly evolving technology.

Our cultural heritage at Glacier National Park goes back far beyond the establishment of the park. It goes to the deep connectivity that the Kootenai, Blackfeet, Salish, and Pend D’Oreille have to this landscape. Thosenative traditions and practices are an important part of the deep rich texture of Glacier National Park. As the park and tribes move forward together in the next 100 years, the next generation has the opportunity to strengthen important programs, such as Native America Speaks, tourism development, and the Iinnii project, and develop new initiatives with our tribal partners.

As we enter our second century, I invite you to celebrate with us the sense of wonder that these historic and wild landscapes have instilled in us all.

The National Park Service Centennial Week Events

 

  1. Commemorative coings

    Commemorative coins

    National Park Centennial Instameet: Glacier National Park, partnering with the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the Department of the Interior, and Visit Montana as well as special guest photographers are hosting an Instameet on August 25from 6 p.m. to sunset in the Apgar Village Green near the Apgar Village Inn. Visitors are encouraged to come together to connect, explore, and celebrate creativity with a camera, make new friends, exchange ideas, and celebrate the 100thbirthday of the National Park Service (NPS). All ages, levels of experience and types of cameras are welcome. Around 6:15 p.m. the host of the Instameet will say a few words in regards to the National Park Service centennial. The official Glacier National Park Service centennial visitor photograph will be taken around 7:00 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to sign the photo matte and be a part of NPS history. The photograph will be posted on our social media sites, printed and hung in the park, as well as copy presented to the director of the National Park Service. It is anticipated that attendance will be high;visitors are encouraged to park at the Apgar Visitor Center and take the bike path to the event.

  2. NPS Photo

    NPS Photo

    Happy Birthday NPS 100 Ranger Program: Say “Happy Birthday NPS” and join a national park ranger for a special program at the St. Mary Visitor Center Auditorium, Thursday, August 25, 8:00 p.m. Admission is by ticket only, with only 209 tickets available. Attendees can pick up a free ticket at the St. Mary Visitor Center beginning on the morning of August 24.The program will explore the history of the National Park Service, reflect on the last 100 years, and the role Glacier will play as we prepare for the next 100.

  3. Logan Pass Star Party: Explore the dark skies of Glacier National Park and attend the Logan Pass Star Party. Admission is by ticket only. Attendees can pick up their free ticket (one per vehicle) at the Apgar or St. Mary Visitor Centers beginning Thursday August 25. The Logan Pass Star Party will be held at Logan Pass Parking Lot from 9:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday, August 26. Attendees will have opportunities to meet with rangers and members of the Big Sky Astronomy Club while taking in the unusually dark skies. There will also be telescopes available to look into the depths of the universe.
  4. Give Back To Glacier Week: The Glacier National Park Conservancy (GNPC) is hosting a “Give Back To Glacier Week,” from August 19 –28.GNPC volunteers will be at entrance locations throughout the park asking for involvement in the program. The GNPC is the official fundraising partner of Glacier National Park providing funding for vital projects and programs that preserve and protect the park.

Wish I could be there.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s contemporary fantasy novels “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande” are set in Glacier National Park. He was a bellman at Many Glacier Hotel while in college.

Bark Ranger to Protect Glacier’s Goats

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from NPS Glacier National Park

Through a Pilot Program a Herding Dog Is Being Trained To Prevent Dangerous Human-Wildlife Interactions at Logan Pass

WEST GLACIER, MT –Glacier National Park, through NPS Centennial year funding from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, is implementing a pilot project to determine if a trained herding dog, “Gracie,” will help to reduce human-wildlife interactions at Logan Pass this summer.

Logan Pass Visitor Center - M. R. Campbell photo

Logan Pass Visitor Center – M. R. Campbell photo

An increase in park visitation has led to an increase in human–wildlife interactions at Logan Pass in recent years. Visitor interactions with mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be dangerous for both people and wildlife. While no serious injuries have been reported at Logan Pass, habituated wildlife have caused serious injury and even death to visitors in other national parks and wild areas. Wildlife habituation can also lead to the death of the animal.

To date, park employees have used conventional hazing methods (arm-waving, shouting, use of sirens, shaking cans of rocks, and moving vehicles) to move goats and sheep out of the parking lot—but the animals tend to return within a short period of time. Because mountain goats and bighorn sheep have an innate fear of predators, however, it is expected that the adverse conditioning activities will encourage the wildlife to stay away for longer periods.

“This program represents a proactive method of wildlife management. The park is trying to provide for safe wildlife viewing by moving wildlife a safe distance from a known area of high visitor use,” said Mark Biel, the dog’s owner and Glacier National Park’s Natural Resources Program Manager. “Through the use of a wildlife shepherding dog and educational visitor contacts, we hope to prevent adverse human–wildlife interactions.”

A Dog Who Loves to Work

“Gracie” is a two-year-old female border collie. Biel describes Gracie as a “medium energy dog that loves to have a job to do.”

Gracie is currently being trained by the staff at the Wind River Bear Institute, in Florence, Montana, known primarily for training Karelian Bear dogs. Biel is being trained as her handler. He plans to conduct wildlife shepherding activities with Gracie at the Logan Pass parking lot and Visitor Center. She is expected to be on duty by mid-July.

Gracie will be trained not to make physical contact with wildlife. She will wear an orange vest or harness indicating that she is a wildlife service animal and will only be off-leash during the shepherding activity. Once wildlife have been moved a safe distance away from the designated area, the shepherding will stop and she will be leashed.

These activities will occur approximately 3–4 times a month, as needed. The shepherding will only occur if the wildlife shows no signs of stress from interaction with humans and vehicles. Shepherding will not occur if it is too hot, if there are other wildlife in the area, or if there is too much traffic and crowding in the parking lot.

The use of dogs to shepherd wildlife is a proven technique for safely and effectively moving wildlife away from areas of concentrated human use. In the 1990’s, Glacier National Park contracted with the Wind River Bear Institute to have trainers and their Karelian bear dogs help manage habituated roadside bears. The project was successful in keeping bears away from the road for the remainder of the visitor season. Waterton Lakes National Park, in Canada, contracts with a business that uses border collies to move habituated deer out of the Waterton townsite before the deer give birth. This has greatly reduced the number of dangerous deer–human encounters. Airports across the country use trained herding dogs to prevent wildlife–aircraft collisions by keeping birds and deer away from runways.

Biel and Gracie will act as wildlife ambassadors, making visitor contacts to remind people about staying a safe distance from all wildlife as well as explaining the dangers to both people and wildlife, of approaching, touching, and feeding habituated wildlife. The Bark Ranger team will also be available to talk to schools and other groups about wildlife management and concerns about habituated wildlife.

Goodbye to Many Glacier Hotel

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After working as a student at Glacier Park’s Many Glacier Hotel in the 1960s, I hoped I would end up living in the area and possibly being part of the workforce there over time. While that didn’t pan out, I thought, well, I’ll sell 100000000000000 copies of my novels including the two partly set in the hotel and will be able to fly out to Montana for a visit area year. While that didn’t pan out, I thought I’d go there occasionally and have my memories.

Many Glacier Hotel

Many Glacier Hotel

Now, as the National Park Service continues to refurbish the hotel, it has accomplished much in terms of infrastructure that will keep the 1915 hotel alive and well for many years to come. But, I’m not going back again and will let the Many Glacier Hotel of my memories suffice. Why?

I’m not going to rehash the issues here; I covered some of them in NPS to proceed with ill-advised restoration of Many Glacier Hotel Staircase. I believe this action and several less obvious changes are better classified as vandalism rather than preservation–or even restoration. I did not like the changes I saw the last time I was at the hotel. While many upgrades were necessary, changing the look and feel was not. Once the lobby and lake level spaces are gutted by the unfortunate rebuilding of a staircase (that has been gone longer than it was there), I don’t want to see the hotel again.

I have said my piece on this from the perspective of a person who wrote preservation grants and who worked in preservation at the municipal level. Nobody was listening to those of us who felt the changes violated the Interior Department’s own standards. Sentimentality won the day, and those of you who visit Many Glacier Hotel beginning in 2017 will see a new lobby/cafe/giftshop configuration. You might actually like it, and that’s fine because you didn’t grow up seeing it the way it’s been for over 50 years.

I applaud the NPS’ work–and those of many fundraisers–in support of stabilizing the hotel and in dealing with building code issues that are always problematic in older structures. But when the look and feel is altered, the historic nature of the structure is compromised. The hotel stands in (to my biased view) the most beautiful valley in a park that’s my favorite place on the planet. I hope many people will enjoy the Swiftcurrent Valley for years to come. I’ll enjoy it as I remember it as this blog discontinues any future mention of Glacier National Park.

As my father grew older, he stayed away from some places he recalled as childhood favorites because he liked them better as they were than as they became. Perhaps a lot of this are this way. The tide of change and so-called promise is as hard to stop as the incoming tide on a beach. So, sometimes it’s better not to go back to the old familiar places because nobody there knows your name any more and too much of what was familiar has been altered, sometimes in unforgivable ways.

I’m happy I saw the hotel several years ago before the worst of the changes arrived. Do you feel this way about some of the places in your past? Do you worry what you’ll find if you go back for a visit? Do you wonder if it’s best to stay away after friends who still live there tell you about the old buildings that were torn town for parking lots and the parks that were paved over for housing developments or the historic structures that were ruined by misguided efforts?

Or, perhaps these feelings only come to those who are starting to grow old.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R’ Campbell’s novels “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande” are partly set in Many Glacier Hotel.