Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stage II Fire Restrictions Rescinded Today Across Northwest Montana

Stage 2 Fire Restrictions will officially be rescinded at 12:01am Wednesday, September 20, 2017 across Northwest Montana. Federal, State, and Private jurisdictions rescinding restrictions include:

* Glacier National Park
* Flathead National Forest
* Kootenai National Forest
* Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
* Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
* US Fish and Wildlife Service Stimson, Stoltze, and Weyerhaeuser Companies
* Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties will each be rescinding restrictions independently and effective immediately upon signature of resolutions by respective county commissioners.

Cooperating agencies would like to sincerely thank the public for their vigilance in fire prevention this season and remind residents that, while recent rain across the area has affected forest fuel conditions and aided fire suppression efforts, long term forecasts predict a warm dry fall. Please continue to take care, as it will take time for critically dry forest fuels to rebound from the historically low moistures of this summer.

Northwest Montana was in very high to extreme fire danger and Stage 2 Fire Restrictions for 53 days, and many people across the region have been affected by wildfire. Be aware that many large fires continue to burn across the landscape, fire suppression and rehabilitation efforts will continue, and local closures may be in place. Contact the local unit or district office for more information.

While campfires, internal combustion engines, and off-road travel are once again allowed, open burning does not start until October 1. Please wait until Open Burn season to burn piles of brush and yard debris. Open burn seasons are a great time to prepare your home and property for the next fire season. For more information, go to


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grizzly Bear Research Trapping to be Conducted in Grand Teton

Biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will conduct grizzly bear research and trapping operations within Grand Teton National Park Tuesday, September 19 through November 15. This research is part of on-going efforts required under the 2016 Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to monitor the population of grizzly bears.

When bear research and trapping activities are being conducted, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. For bear and human safety, the public must respect these signs and stay out of the posted areas.

Trained professionals with the interagency team will bait and trap grizzly bears in accordance with strict protocols. Once trapped, the bears are sedated to allow wildlife biologists to collar the bears and collect samples and data for scientific study.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to collaboratively monitor and research grizzly bears in the ecosystem on an interagency basis. The gathering of critical data on the bears is part of a long-term research effort and required under the 2016 conservation strategy to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bear population. The team includes representatives from the National Park Service, U. S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

On September 8, 2017, National Park Service biologists captured and killed a bear near Heart Lake in the southern part of Yellowstone National Park. The immature, male grizzly was repeatedly involved in conflicts with humans.

This bear began exhibiting bold behavior around people in 2015. At that time, Wyoming Game and Fish personnel captured the bear, tagged it, and relocated it to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. In 2016, the same bear entered campsites in the Heart Lake area of Yellowstone and destroyed backpackers’ tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. National Park Service staff attempted to change the bear’s dangerous behavior through the use of electric decoy tents, electric food sack decoys, and by hazing with bean bag rounds, rubber bullets, and cracker shells. These efforts failed. Attempts to trap the bear also failed.

Hikers reported observing the bear around campsites and investigating tents in the Heart Lake area in 2017. On the evening of August 26, the bear forced a group of three backpackers out of their campsite near Heart Lake and consumed all of their food. In response, Yellowstone closed the area to backcountry camping on August 27 and set traps for the bear on September 1. The bear was captured and killed on the morning of September 8.

This incident serves as an unfortunate reminder that "a fed bear is a dead bear." Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. All of us play a role in keeping both bears and people safe. Learn more about what you can do at


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Secretary Zinke Announces Urgent Stabilization Work Has Begun at Sperry Chalet

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that Glacier National Park has begun urgently needed stabilization work at the Sperry Chalet dormitory building to prepare for winter. This is a critical first step in preserving the original structure and rebuilding the historic building.

On August 31, the building burned when the Sprague Fire significantly expanded and surrounded the Sperry complex. Earlier this week, Secretary Zinke ordered an independent investigation into the disaster and expedited the inspection of the remaining structure.

"Rebuilding Sperry is one of my top priorities, today's announcement is the first step in that process," said Secretary Zinke. "I'm grateful to the Conservancy and the Park for their quick work to preserve and rebuild Sperry."

While most of the buildings in the Sperry Chalet complex including the Dining Room and a trails and utility cabin weathered the extreme fire behavior with sprinkler systems, fire resistant wrap, and wildland firefighters defending the exteriors of the buildings, the dormitory building suffered extensive damage.

The purpose of the stabilization work is to protect the walls and chimneys from excessive snow and weather damage throughout the winter. Next spring and summer, the park will conduct additional structural analysis and a review of the site area to help inform decisions about the future of the chalet complex.

The stabilization recommendations come from DCI + BCE Engineers out of Missoula, and were paid for by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. The engineering firm had previously done work at the chalet when it was heavily damaged in a 2011 avalanche.

“The Glacier Conservancy was able to get an engineering crew up there with our staff practically the day after we asked for help,” said Superintendent Jeff Mow. “With winter approaching, we could never have moved fast enough without the support of our private philanthropic partner to get this critical work done.”

Donations to the Glacier National Park Conservancy have funded the work of the engineering firm and will fund initial stabilization materials and needed labor this fall.

This is not the first time that the Glacier National Park Conservancy has stepped forward to provide immediate assistance for urgent park needs. In 2013, it supported expanded plowing efforts to open the Going-to-the-Sun Road after heavy winter snow. This year, it supported a significantly enhanced aquatic invasive species inspection program after zebra and quagga mussels were detected in the State of Montana last fall.

“As the park grapples with an array of challenges from serving an ever increasing number of visitors to wildfire to deferred maintenance, we are deeply thankful for our public-private partnership with the Glacier National Park Conservancy and the support of our local and worldwide Glacier community for whom the park is a cherished second home,” said Superintendent Mow.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Glacier National Park Conservancy: Trail Keepers Society

I wanted to take a quick minute to let you know about a relatively new program called the Trail Keepers Society that's been launched by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. This organization will be helping to maintain the more than 740 miles of trails that traverse through Glacier National Park. With more and more people "discovering" Glacier in recent years, this new program will be extremely important in helping to maintain the trails in the park. It appears that the Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass will be the first project under the new program. Here's more information from the GNPC website:
Wear and tear and the combined contributions of both Mother Nature and Glacier National Park visitors can take a heavy toll on Glacier's trails. If deteriorating trails are not repaired and maintained on a regular basis, habitat damage and safety concerns can require their closure.

Much work needs to be done on an on-going basis to preserve and maintain trails - clearing of heavy brush, repairing broken walkways, rehabilitating eroded and fire-damaged trails and in some cases, rerouting or rebuilding entire segments. The National Park Service devotes significant monetary and human resources to trail maintenance, but it is not enough.

We hope you will agree that annual funding for trails in Glacier National Park offers a unique opportunity for you to show your support. Thank you very much for caring about Glacier National Park, for all, forever.
For more information on the Trail Keepers Society, and to donate, please click here.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Glacier Temporarily Suspends Backcountry Permit Issuance

Glacier National Park announced today that no new overnight backcountry permits are being issued at this time due to developing critical fire weather conditions.

Isolated dry thunderstorms are possible tonight and Saturday, followed by gusty winds Saturday afternoon into Sunday associated with a cold front passage.

There are no backcountry evacuations at this time, and there is no immediate threat at this time to backcountry users.

The intent of this action is to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry. In the event of a new fire start or rapid growth of existing fires, the park has significantly fewer resources available, due to ongoing fire operations, to assist a large number of people out of the backcountry.

The duration that no new overnight backcountry permits will be issued is unknown due to ongoing dry conditions, extremely high fire behavior, and the extended fire season outlook.

The park is currently fighting three large fires and is preparing for the potential of a fourth, the Kenow Fire coming down from Canada near Goat Haunt.

Information on the Sprague and Adair Peak Fires is available on Inciweb.

Elder Creek Fire lies on the Montana and British Columbia border, and started on the Canadian side on September 2nd. It is currently 2,055 acres, with 260 acres on the US side. Firefighters have begun implementing structure protection around the Kishenehn Patrol Cabin and surrounding areas.

The Kenow Fire burning in Canada could potentially impact Waterton Lakes National Park and northern portions of Glacier National Park. As a precaution, firefighters have started on some structure protection in the Goat Haunt area of Glacier National Park.

Due to these fires, trail and road closures change frequently. Please check the park’s website to monitor trail and road closure status.


Glacier National Park Proposes Revised Fee Structure

Glacier National Park is soliciting public comment for a proposal to change the price of the Glacier National Park Annual Pass from $50 to $60. No other entrance fees are proposed for change.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful-The National Parks and Federal Recreational Annual, Senior, Access, Military, or Volunteer Passes. These passes may be obtained at the park.

“The funds raised through entrance fees including passes are critical to improve facilities and infrastructure, and to provide an enhanced level of visitor service,” said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow.

Park entrance and campground fees have supported a number of important projects in the park including a portion of the Many Glacier Hotel restoration, new interpretive exhibits at visitor centers, trail repairs, and winter snowshoe walks.

Glacier National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2016, more than 2.9 million park visitors spent $250 million in the local economy and supported over 4,000 jobs related to tourism.

The public can submit comments at Comments may also be submitted via mail to Glacier National Park, Attention: Glacier National Park Annual Pass Fee Increase, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. The comment period will be open until September 30.

This fee structure review and civic engagement process is part of a 2017 review of Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act fees at parks nationwide. Following the public comment period, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.