MTPR

Glacier Park Plan Addressing Overcrowding Moves Forward

Feb 25, 2019

A plan that could change how visitors travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor is among several projects Glacier National Park announced Monday they’re moving ahead with this year.

The plan to reduce issues of overcrowding along the park’s popular throughway has been in the works for years.

Lauren Alley is a spokesperson for Glacier National Park.

"What this plan looks at is really a series of strategies," says Alley. "You know that you can't solve crowding in Glacier National Park with just one thing."

Alley says the proposed plan includes multiple options like funding for more shuttles, enforced time-limits on parking, increased parking in certain places, and increased mitigation measures for trails that get hard hit each year.

"So it really takes a look at a lot of those areas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor and thoughtfully thinks about what might be needed to sustain such a level of visitation."

The current plan to manage overcrowding along the Going-to-the-Sun corridor got started back in 2012. In 2015 the park released some preliminary alternatives for managing the corridor and told the public they anticipated completing an environmental impact statement, or EIS, that year.

But the EIS was never released.

Alley says a major setback in the process has been the increase in park visitation from 2.3 million visits when the planning started to the record-breaking 3.3 million visits in 2017.

"This rather unprecedented growth over the course of about five years has been a challenge with this planning effort," says Alley.

The park now says they’re moving ahead and plan to release an environmental assessment (EA) for public comment in the next few months, instead of an EIS.

Alley says that switch is because analysis of the proposed plan so far has not found environmental impacts significant enough to require the more-detailed EIS.

Another project the park hopes to open up for public comment this spring proposes using a targeted fish toxin to kill off a non-native trout species in the area around Camas Lake.

That plan is intended to help the park’s native fish species thrive. It would also call for adding more native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout to the area to boost their populations.

For more information on Glacier National Park’s upcoming planning efforts, visit the National Park Service website.