Glacier Park Extends Comment Period for Sun Road Plan

Public now has until Nov. 6 to give feedback on new management plan

By Justin Franz
One of Glacier National Park’s historic red tour buses leaves the Logan Pass Visitor parking lot along Going-to-the-Sun Road on Sept. 11, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The public comment period for the recently released Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor management plan has been extended until Nov. 6.

Glacier National Park was previously accepting comments on the plan until the end of this month but has extended the comment period due to public interest, according to Superintendent Jeff Mow.

“We appreciate the feedback we’ve received thus far, and look forward to hearing from more people as we develop proposals for transportation, visitor use, recreation experience, and resource protection along the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor,” Mow said.

The long-awaited corridor management plan was released in early September, and officials have said it would give them the “tools” to handle skyrocketing visitation. Between 2015 and 2017, visitation in the park jumped 40 percent. This year, more than 2.4 million people have visited the park between January and August. Many of those visitors clog the Sun Road during the busy summer months.

Suggestions in the plan to handle increased use include expanding shuttle service along the entire Sun Road; implementing a partial parking permit system at popular locations like Logan Pass, St. Mary and the Virginia Falls Trailhead, as well as prohibiting overnight parking (thus preventing people from parking and going for a multiday excursion in the backcountry while taking up valuable parking lot space); constructing new parking lots on the east and west sides of the park; improving and adding trails and adding additional bathrooms in popular areas; improving services for bikers, including the addition of bike racks; during peak visitation, turning part of the Avalanche Creek Campground into additional parking; and extending visitor hours at the Apgar and St. Mary visitor centers.

The plan also suggests using a permit system on popular trails like the Highline to help limit the number of people on the trail during busy times of the year. While a permit system has been used for backcountry camping spots in Glacier, such a system has never been used to control access on trails in the park. Earlier this year, a hiking permit system was implemented on some trails in the Deschutes and Willamette national forests in Oregon to help deal with what officials called a “noticeable spike” in use.

The full plan is available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/GTSRPlan. Comments can be posted on the website, or sent by mail to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: GTSR Corridor Management Plan, PO Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.

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