Nearly two years after it was created, the Glacier National Park Conservancy is laying out big plans for the future, including the creation of a philanthropy “field guide” that list various projects within the park that are in need of funding and support.
Conservancy President Mark Preiss said the guide would help people who love Glacier National Park connect to places and projects that are important to them. He said the idea for the field guide, which includes 49 different projects, came from other national park support groups.
“We want to give the community a tangible way to give back to Glacier National Park, to see the impact of their own philanthropy,” Preiss said. “This field guide gives people the option to fund projects and places they love.”
The conservancy was created in 2013 when the Glacier National Park Fund and the Glacier Association merged into one support group. The Fund had been organized in 1999. The Association was created in the 1940s and raised money through the sale of merchandise at visitors centers and other outlets.
Earlier this year, Preiss and Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow met with officials from other national parks and their support groups to get ideas on how to enhance the partnership. Preiss said in the past, the park usually told the support groups what type of funding it needed, but identifying needs was never really a collaborative process. This year the conservancy and the park service worked together to find projects that needed funding. The 49 projects identified run the gamut from scientific research to historic preservation.
One of the largest preservation requests is for $100,000 to recreate the iconic double-helix stairway at the Many Glacier Hotel. The stairway was removed from the hotel in the 1950s. The $100,000 request would add to the $300,000 that has already been given to the project by a private donor.
A smaller request, although no less important in the Conservancy’s eyes, is $30,000 to reconstruct the popular Trail of the Cedars that was built in the 1930s. The funding would go toward laying down “green” resin pavement ensuring that the trail remains accessible to visitors of all abilities.
Other projects listed in the field guide include establishing wireless Internet at the Apgar and St. Mary visitor centers, funding to continue to ever-popular Dark Skies program and finding ways to increase access to the park’s expansive archives. Preiss said some projects are already well on their way to being funded.
“This philanthropy not only impacts the visitor’s experience but it impacts the resource itself and the local communities,” he said. “We may not be able to fund all of the projects listed in this guide but it helps us show what needs are there.”
Preiss said the conservancy is already looking at producing the 2016 field guide and is working with the park service to find worthy projects. He said they hope to have the next guide completed earlier next year to take advantage of what he called the “100 days a philanthropy,” the time immediately after Glacier’s busy summer season.
The group is already on its way to a big year, having raised $450,000 this summer, mostly from its popular Backpackers Ball and the One Day for Glacier, where local business donated some of their proceeds to the conservancy.
Preiss and marketing and communications coordinator Lauren Alley said the conservancy’s biggest goal in the coming year is to continue building on its relationships with park officials and the surrounding communities.
“The question we as a conservancy have to ask is, ‘What will the next 100 years in Glacier National Park look like?’” Alley said.
For more information about the Glacier National Park Conservancy visit www.glacierconservancy.com.