At the Conservancy, we’re proud of the work that we have accomplished with the generous support of our donors. Below is just a sample of the exciting things that we’ve been a part of.
For people like Doug Betters, a former Miami Dolphin’s football player who now experiences life from a wheelchair as a result of a ski accident, accessible trails make the difference between experiencing the park through car windows and feeling part of it. “The desire to be independent is a huge part of being disabled,” he says, “and to just be able to go a few hundred yards off the road into nature is very liberating.”
It isn’t just “wheelers,” in Betters’ words, who use accessible trails. With an aging population and increases in diabetes and obesity (not to mention those with baby strollers), the nation has more people than ever who prefer firm surfaces and gentle gradients for walking.
Although the west side of Glacier has several wheelchair-accessible trails including Trail of the Cedars, the east side lacked such features. As one of the most highly visited areas of the park, Many Glacier sorely needed an accessible trail for the disabled, the strollers and the walkers. The Conservancy stepped up to fund such a trail.
Discover Glacier Education Program
The Discover Glacier Education Program has been extremely successful over the past 6 years thanks to the number of folks like you who played a big role in that success through your donations. The number of students served has exceeded our expectations by reaching over 30,000 kids. Free ranger led program offerings have increased and teacher workshops are now conducted annually to ensure quality programs and opportunities for families to connect with park resources and rangers during the summer. The Park’s curriculum programs are in more demand now than ever. Maintaining this program is critical to developing a lifelong connection to the outdoors.
The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center Citizen Science Program supports a twofold goal of providing reliable data to Park managers while fostering science literacy and resource stewardship among Park visitors. The program has grown to a year-round program that gathers research data on priority wildlife and plant species in Glacier National Park. This program continues to engage citizens in research that helps our Park make science based decisions rather than guessing at the impact. For example, we have shown that despite visitor growth, our grizzly bear population remains healthy. In 2011, we launched a pilot Citizen Science High School program and have brought over 240 students from across the country, along with several regional high school classes, to the Park to engage in research and work projects. Following are some of the details of our growth:
- The program has grown from a 6-week pilot effort focused on Common Loons to an almost year-round program that monitors many wildlife and plant species.
- We have trained over 700 citizen scientists and 150 citizen scientists are active each year.
- We have engaged over 400 students in citizen science data collection since 2010.
- Citizen scientists have contributed over 25,000 hours (in-kind contribution of $500,000) and conducted over 3800 surveys.
- Our program and protocols have served as a model for other parks and agencies.
- This program addresses many of the National Park Service Call to Action initiatives.
- Our research indicates that large datasets from citizen scientists can yield statistically similar population and distribution estimates to those of biologists/ aerial surveys.