Glacier Park Gets Boost in Base Funding

By Beacon Staff

WEST GLACIER – Glacier National Park officials say the park’s $25 million budget for 2008 includes an increase in base funding, which will allow for the hiring of more seasonal employees, but does not have as much money for special projects.

The base budget increased from just over $12 million to nearly $13.2 million, mostly because of the National Park Service’s “Centennial Initiative” to boost funding nationwide. For Glacier, that means a permanent $625,000 increase in the park’s base budget.

“In practical terms, this base operating funding increase means that we will be able to hire more seasonal employees and visitors will see more rangers out in the park,” said acting Superintendent Stephanie Dubois. “We will begin a special watchable wildlife program in Many Glacier. We will be able to better protect the public and park resources through the extension and/or hiring of protection rangers.”

The budget increase will also help with escalating utility and fuel costs for daily operations, she said.

However, the park was unsuccessful in securing about $950,000 for maintenance projects for trails, buildings and roads. Some temporary employees doing that work will be lost unless funding is secured through other means, Dubois said.

Dubois said park staffers are optimistic about getting adequate maintenance funding next year, and that there is potential to shore up funding for some seasonal positions this year with the help of nonprofit park partners such as the Glacier National Park Fund.