Northwest Montana on the Map

By Beacon Staff

Some would say Northwest Montana is already on the map. It just depends on what map you’re talking about.

Last Friday the National Geographic Society held its second Crown of the Continent Stewardship Council in Whitefish to discuss a Geotourism MapGuide that will include parts of Flathead County and Glacier National Park, among other areas of Northwest Montana, Alberta and British Columbia.

It was the second of four meetings before the guide is completed early next year.

The MapGuide will detail places or events that capture “the region’s beauty, diversity and unique feel.” Examples are: wildlife viewing spots, local foods, historic districts, recreational trails, unique local businesses, places to stay, community festivals and traditions. One side of the foldout MapGuide will be a map and the other side will be an informational guide.

It’s the fourth map of its kind that National Geographic has done in the U.S. The others are the Arizona-Sonora, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and the Appalachian MapGuides, though Crown of the Continent Project Coordinator Steve Thompson doesn’t count the Appalachian map in the same class because it included 13 states, which didn’t allow it to be nearly as specific as the Crown map will be.

Thompson, who works for the National Park Conservation Association, first presented the idea to National Geographic last year. He said the goal is to not only show outsiders the vast opportunities in the area, but also for locals to be aware of everything they have so they are that much more eager to protect it.

“Okay, so we’ve been discovered,” he said. “Now do we have to kill the goose that laid the golden egg?”

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