Glacier National Park expects to move forward this year with several projects to improve visitor experiences in the park as well as support and maintain critical park infrastructure, and the public has an opportunity to influence them during comment periods.
Projects include plans to maintain and manage historic properties, address congestion along the Going-to-the-Sun corridor, and conserve westslope cutthroat and bull trout in alpine lakes and creeks. The National Park Service (NPS) will also be looking at communication infrastructure and services needed inside the park as well as ways to extend electric and telephone services to the Kelly Camp community on Lake McDonald, where historic properties were destroyed by the 2018 Howe Ridge Fire.
“Glacier National Park is an amazing place and community that continues to welcome more visitors each year,” Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said. “We’ve set out a lot of goals for 2019 and will be looking to the public to help us make sound decisions moving forward.”
Upcoming opportunities to participate and comment on the plans listed below will be announced online on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment site: parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkID=61.
The projects include:
Lake McDonald Properties Management Plan/Environmental Assessment
This plan addresses seven historic properties around Lake McDonald now under park ownership. It proposes an adaptive management approach that identifies options for preservation, including historic leasing opportunities, proposed administrative uses, possible concession use and possible removal of some properties if other viable solutions are not found. The draft plan and environmental assessment was released to the public for comment in January 2018, and the decision is expected to be finalized this spring.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan/Environmental Assessment
This plan will identify strategies to manage transportation, visitation and visitor use, trail use, and access within the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor. A plan is anticipated in the spring with an opportunity for public comment. The National Park Service initiated an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); however, it has since decided an Environmental Assessment (EA) is more appropriate given the scope of the plan. The EA will be posted on the NPS Planning page. Previous newsletters and other public scoping documents are currently available there as well.
Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout Preservation in the Upper Camas Drainage Environmental Assessment
This project would conserve westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout in the upper Camas drainage. The project would remove non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout from Camas Lake, Lake Evangeline, and Camas Creek above Arrow Lake and relocate native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout to Camas Lake and Lake Evangeline. The EA is expected to be released in the spring with an opportunity for public comment.
The park paused a larger fisheries planning effort to evaluate and focus on targeted fisheries management projects that can be analyzed in site-specific detail. Based on the success of these smaller-scale actions, the park may or may not continue with a plan that identifies fisheries actions at the park-wide level.
Comprehensive Communication Plan/Environmental Assessment
This plan will identify the level of communication infrastructure and services needed in Glacier National Park, to support two-way radio systems, phone services (cellular and landline), internet, and alarms. It will guide development of communication services, including potential design, location, and appropriateness of facilities and other related communication infrastructure. The park expects to begin public scoping sometime in 2019.
North McDonald Road Utilities Categorical Exclusion
A project will be proposed to extend electric and telephone services to the Kelly Camp community, following the 2018 Howe Fire. The utilities would be located within the existing North McDonald Road corridor. Normally projects like this fall under a categorical exclusion (CE), which covers routine actions that have little to no potential for environmental impacts and no potential for significant adverse impacts. A CE will be prepared for this action and made available for public comment and review. While public involvement is not typical for projects covered under CE, the park will notify the public about this project given the local interest.
The project will be posted for public comment on the NPS website this winter.