Current Projects

Current Projects

The Glacier National Park Conservancy along with the Park administration have identified key priorities for 2014 to protect and preserve the majestic landscape and natural beauty that we often refer to as the “Crown of the Continent.”

With your help, the Conservancy will continue its work in preservation, research and education for our irreplaceable National Treasure.

Make a General Donation online or Contact Us to join Glacier’s Call to Action!

Preservation

Preserving and enhancing the Glacier experience through trail rehabilitation, restoration of historic structures, interpretive displays, and more.

Rehabilitate Numa, Huckleberry, Apgar, Mt. Brown and Scalplock Lookout Trails

This project will rehabilitate five different lookout trails that are popular day hike destinations.  All of these trails need additional maintenance requiring re-grading and substantial drainage work to make them safe to travel.  In addition, many sections are over-grown and need to be brushed for easier access to the lookout.

Repair Bridle Path Overpasses – Many Glacier Hotel

This project is critical for the safety of pedestrians, horse riders and to prevent damage to automobiles from falling debris while passing under these bridges.  In the 1930’s, these two north-south historic overpasses were constructed between Many Glacier Hotel and the upper parking lot, and over the Many Glacier Hotel loop access road to prevent area congestion.  They were also designed to prevent a bridle path for traditional horse trips to and from this central location. They are contributing elements of the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District.

This project will provide protection and safety for visitor, concession, and park staff in the heavily used Many Glacier Hotel area, including pedestrian, horse, and automobile traffic in the immediate area of the Many Glacier Hotel. The Bridle Path Overpasses are important features defining the character of the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District and are currently listed in poor condition.

Rehabilitate the Nyack Loop Trail

This project will rehabilitate sections of the Loop Trail by putting a crew in place for four additional work hitches in various sites around the Loop.  The work would consist of brushing and tread work, which would make the trail safer and easier to travel.  Despite ongoing maintenance on the Loop Trail every year, there is more work to be done than the NPS trail budget allows.  Thus, this project would double the amount of maintenance on the Nyack Loop from four hitches to eight.  All the sections of this Loop Trail requires substantial tread work and brushing and needs to be re-aligned to get the trail out of wet areas.

Repair of the Historic Loneman, Huckleberry, and Swiftcurrent Lookouts

These historic and actively-staffed lookouts provide protection for Glacier National Park and adjacent agencies’ natural and cultural resources, and provides essential communication links for immediate response and emergency situations in remote areas of Glacier Park, and adjacent agencies and jurisdictions.  These lookouts are popular visitor destinations and provide a unique opportunity to connect people with the historical significance of lookout towers.  It also provides the public with important information about fire management prevention.

This project will include repairs to or replacement of both historic and structural elements including building sheathings, roofing, structural framing, and exterior finish fabrics insuring structural stability for park staff utilization; including occupation by park fire management, trail, backcountry, resource, research, and maintenance staffs for summer and off-season use, and provide adequate building protection for winter season environmental conditions.

These lookouts provide a setting for visitor recreation and education opportunities within Glacier’s proposed wilderness, multiple uses for trail crews, law enforcement, natural resource protection and scientific research, which are central to wilderness administration and protection, safety, and visitor enjoyment within Glacier National Park.

Replace Camas Creek Patrol Cabin

The Camas Creek Patrol Cabin was moved to its current site in the middle 1970s, and was originally a storage shed at Headquarters. Long ago, acquired landowner cabins served as winter patrol cabins for the ranger staff. As snowmobiles became available, winter patrols were conducted by rangers along the Inside North Fork Road in the winter, instead of on foot, so cabins were not as vital to the patrol operation. When Park management decided to ban routine administrative and visitor snowmobile use in the 1970s, it was felt that a cabin at Camas Creek was needed to facilitate winter ski and snowshoe patrols.

The Camas Creek Cabin is now in poor condition. In its current state, the Cabin is a danger to employee health and safety.  However, there have been winter search and rescues along the Inside Road in the past, and the Cabin has the potential to be used as a base of operations for winter SAR as winter visitor use increases. Also, the Science and Resources Division routinely uses the Cabin, both summer and winter, as a base of operations for various research and monitoring projects. If the Inside Road is ever closed due to funding shortages and converted to a horse/bike/hiker trail, the need of the Cabin would be even greater as a base of operations for trail crew and backcountry rangers in summer, as well as the before mentioned uses.

The Cabin, as it stands now, is not worth the money it would take to repair, nor does it serve well as a Patrol Cabin because of its size and other issues. This grant proposes that the existing Camas Cabin be returned to its original use as a wood shed, and that a new patrol cabin be constructed on site. Jack Polzin estimates that a new Camas Cabin could be built for $20,000, with most of the labor completed by supervised volunteers. The Park already has most of the materials needed for the project. The new Cabin would be a log structure with a root cellar similar in design and size to existing snowshoe cabins. The cabin would be able to accommodate four or more, which would facilitate trail or SAR work.

Education:

Engaging youth in Glacier and creating future stewards.

Glacier Youth Corps Partnership

The Glacier Conservation Corps provides an opportunity to address three of our priorities with a single project.  It engages youth in worthwhile employment, helps build their resumes, perhaps creating conservationists, and helps fulfill our “education” priority.  It allows the park to get work done on trails and historic structures, fulfilling our “preservation” priority.  It addresses Citizen Science research by having additional observers in the field all summer, fulfilling our “research” objectives.  It showcases an exciting new program for youth resulting from several national park partners working together.  With a very successful first season completed, we plan to expand this opportunity by adding two more crews for younger (15-17 year old) members, focusing on local populations and youth from the Blackfeet and Flathead Reservations.

Probably the greatest value of the program lies in the fact that it connects these young people in a deep and meaningful way to Glacier National Park, building a new generation of leaders and stewards for our parks and public lands. It fosters a broader view of the world and pushes participants past comfort zones, which ultimately increases their self-confidence and leadership capabilities. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently asked, “What happens when a generation who has little connection to our nation’s public lands is suddenly in charge of taking care of them?” As we continue to invest in this important program, we welcome you to join with us in this “Call to Action” to make a difference in the lives of our youth and the future of Glacier National Park.

Discover Glacier Education Program (Fall)

Glacier National Park’s education field trip programs for schools is recognized by local and regional educators as consistently delivering high quality, hands-on, curriculum-based educational opportunities for K-12 students.  Because of better weather and favorable scheduling, fall education programs are becoming more and more popular. Due to Glacier’s short window of decent weather for spring field trips, many teachers are unable to schedule field trip dates. In response, Glacier has been offering those same programs in the fall. In the fall of 2013, the program served 2,350 students, teachers, and chaperons from 29 different schools (104 classrooms). The programs take place over the course of five weeks in Sept./Oct. The Park has traditionally been able to provide summer interpretive rangers to help conduct these programs. However, due to reduced federal funding we must secure other funding sources for staff to avoid eliminating fall programs.

Fall funding will support six seasonal Park rangers for education support.

Relocation of Visitor Center to Apgar Transit Center

The building that houses the current Apgar Visitor Center was a private residence that was acquired and converted to an information center in the early 1970s. Although it may have been adequate in meeting visitor demands at that time, it has outlived its usefulness and functionality. The Apgar Visitor Center now serves over 2,000 visitors per day during the peak operating season. At 800 square feet, the floor space is minimal with limited space for exhibits, sales areas, storage, and visitor capacity. Restroom facilities are inadequate in meeting visitor demand. Parking is extremely limited and competitive in the village of Apgar and the area becomes highly congested on a regular basis, resulting in negative visitor experiences and significant safety issues. Due to inadequate parking and high visitation, visitors are often unable to access the visitor center to gain valuable resource information, trip planning material, and safety and stewardship messages. There are minimal climate control features in the building to mitigate heat in the summers resulting in potential health issues to visitors and staff.

The Apgar Transit Center, a Gold LEED Certified structure, opened in 2007 as the primary transit hub for the Park’s shuttle system. It is located about a half mile from the Apgar Visitor Center and is located in a highly visible location near the West Entrance of the Park. It has high volume parking availability in a large single lot, which is being expanded under a separate project to meet expected needs. An indoor exhibit space at the Apgar Transit Center houses some simple exhibits related to transportation but has proven to be almost unused by the public. This new space will be furnished with an information desk and other amenities necessary to conduct visitor center operations. A functional workroom and information desk with ergonomically correct furnishings and features will be developed for the interpretive staff. Equipment and interpretive design experts have been secured and all compliance requirements have been met. Consolidation of the transit center and visitor center functions will improve visitor services, accessibility, and staffing efficiency. By transitioning to a newer facility with improved parking, expanded modern restroom facilities, digital infrastructure, reduced carbon footprint, and the improved infrastructure, the customer service, quality of the visitor experience, and employee work environment will be vastly improved. The consolidation of operations will encourage use of the Park shuttle system and offer additional educational, interpretive and informational visitor services to a larger audience.

Due to the wide range of visitor services provided at a consolidated visitor center and transit center operation (e.g., resource information, trip planning, stewardship and resource protection messaging, hiking and other recreational opportunities, winter backcountry permitting, winter curriculum-based programming for youth, junior ranger activities, shuttle services, night sky events), this project contributes to a number of Call to Action Themes/Goals/Actions: Connecting People to Parks (Parks for People & Next Generation Stewards), Enhancing Professional and Organizational Excellence (Play It Safe), and Preserving America’s Special Places (Go Green). Many of the 2 million annual visitors to the Park rely heavily on the visitor center staff to gain information on activities such as hiking, paddling, and other forms of outdoor recreation. Interpretive staff devotes significant time to assisting visitors to ensure that they have a safe and enjoyable visit while forging meaningful connections to the outdoors.

This project will also upgrade interpretive exhibits and media and improve the facilities and accessibility of visitor programs.  When visitor center operations transition to the Apgar Transit Center facility in 2014, new interpretive exhibits for the visitor center will be necessary to convey the importance and significance of Glacier National Park’s resources.

Glacier Astronomy Program

Glacier is home to some of the darkest skies in the world providing astronomy enthusiasts with phenomenal night sky viewing opportunities.  The Glacier Astronomy program has become the Park’s most popular interpretive program since its start in 2008.  In 2013 over 30,000 visitors participated in the program. The schedule includes solar and nighttime viewings in Apgar and St. Mary, as well as larger Star Parties at Logan Pass during July and August.  In addition to these viewings, night sky photography workshops will be offered at St. Mary.  Funding for this program provides support for volunteer expenses and equipment costs.  Due to the growing popularity of this program, we also hope to increase the number of volunteer astronomers to assist with viewings.  Check out the latest schedules here.

Research:

Helping protect and sustain Glacier’s wildlife and habitat as part of one of the most ecologically intact ecosystems in the world.

Promote Youth & Adult Citizen Science Stewardship in Glacier National Park

The Glacier National Park Conservancy (formerly the Glacier National Park Fund) has been the primary supporter of Citizen Science in Glacier National Park for seven years.  The program has been extremely successful, attracting more than 700 different participants to collect data for the Park on common loons, pikas, mountain goats and weeds. The Citizen Scientist volunteers include adults and youth who log thousands of hours in the field each summer collecting far more data than can be gathered by Park staff.  We have also determined that the data is scientifically sound, reliable and it has proven to be highly valuable to the Park in planning further research and management of these and other species of management concern.

Not only has Citizen Science proven to provide good quality data for Park management decision making, it is also an excellent education and outreach tool.  In addition to having trained citizen scientists, presentations on the Citizen Science program are delivered to several hundred people each year including high school and university classrooms, and has been highlighted in numerous media publications.  Individuals who have been exposed to these publications and presentations have expressed enthusiasm for conservation of sensitive park resources.

We are currently running three established projects: 1) Citizen Science for Common Loons, 2) High Country Citizen Science: monitoring mountain goats and pikas, and 3) Mapping Invasive Plants in Glacier’s Backcountry.  We are also utilizing Citizen Scientists to assist us with monitoring Golden Eagle migration and inventorying alpine aquatic insects.

Generous donors have already funded two student interns for 2014, as well as six months for the Citizen Science Coordinator position to support the Youth Exploring Science (YES!) program during spring and fall months.  We are now asking to fund the Citizen Science Coordinator for the summer months of June – August ($17,000) and to provide program support costs ($7,000).  Funding this program will allow us to continue building upon the momentum that has been generated by a growing number of volunteer participants each year, and continue to provide high quality wildlife and biological data to Glacier National Park managers in order to better preserve sensitive Park resources.

Black Swift Nest Inventory and Monitoring Project

Black Swifts are considered the number one bird species in Montana and are at high risk of population decline due to climate change.  Black Swifts only nest behind, or beside, waterfalls that persist throughout the year. As glaciers melt and snowpack levels decline, Black Swift nesting habitat is expected to disappear. Very little is known about Black Swifts compared to other neo-tropical migrant birds and they are the least studied of all Swifts.  Virtually nothing is known about their winter habitat needs. Black Swifts have a low reproductive rate raising only one chick per year, after an incubation period of about four weeks. Chicks often do not fledge until late September. The rarity of their nests has attracted considerable attention.  Black Swifts are listed as a species of concern in Montana because of their low population numbers and narrow habitat requirements.

In 2013, we received donor funding to hire two interns to conduct nest searches for Golden Eagles and Black Swifts throughout Glacier.   Although our efforts to find additional eagle nests were not fruitful, confirmation of Black Swifts at four new locations in Glacier were identified along with reconfirmation of use at the unnamed falls between Mt. Vaught and McPartland Mountain.  Water had returned to these falls after high snow packs occurred in 2011 and record rainfall in 2012. These surveys have nearly doubled the previously known number of nests in Montana, which is of great excitement in the bird conservation world.

Glacier boasts hundreds of waterfalls and it is possible that many have the suitable characteristics to support nesting Swifts. Identifying and traveling to each of these waterfalls, however, takes time and resources. Currently, Glacier National Park does not have the staff or resources to conduct thorough searches for additional Black Swift nesting colonies. This proposal, therefore, seeks the funding to hire a field crew of two people to conduct additional Black Swift surveys throughout the Park.