Analysis to Minimize Impacts and Support Mission
WEST GLACIER, MT. – Effective March 1, 2013, Glacier National Park was required by “sequestration” (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts) to reduce its annual base budget by five percent. The park’s base budget of approximately $13.5 million was reduced by $682,000. The park must absorb that cut in the remaining months of this fiscal year that ends September 30. The federal law imposing sequestration requires that each park take this cut.
Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, “We took a thoughtful and analytical approach to implementing program reductions as outlined by Congress, while taking into account the number of visitors served, number of visitors impacted, revenue loss versus savings gained, economic impacts to the surrounding communities and businesses, resource stewardship, and critical life, health and safety concerns for employees and visitors. Hall continued, “It is challenging, and the reality is that we all will see and feel the effects of sequestration.” She said that these are the impacts for this season, and it is unknown what the impacts will be next year, but she anticipates that 2014 will be filled with many more challenges and changes.”
A delay in the spring opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road was considered in response to sequestration. A generous offer from the Glacier National Park Conservancy and salary savings from unanticipated personnel changes will be used to maintain the seasonal positions and the overtime needed to facilitate snow plowing efforts with the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Hall said, “We greatly appreciate the financial offer from the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Their timely support will allow for the continuity and emphasis we place on snow plowing activities, especially as crews approach the “big drift” near Logan Pass and the culmination of the tremendous road opening effort.”
Snow plowing efforts throughout the park are being initiated, with weather and road rehabilitation being key factors in visitor access to Logan Pass and the entire 50 miles of the road. Hall said, “We understand the value of access to the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road and we will be able to maintain the general snow plowing schedule. She said some other road maintenance activities, such as grading, striping and patching, will be reduced in the fall.
In response to sequestration, the park reduced travel, training, overtime, vehicle leases, and supply and equipment purchases for the remainder of the fiscal year. Travel and training restrictions are currently imposed, only allowing employees to travel and attend meetings or training sessions that are in the local area, or that fulfill a certification required for the position held.
Other actions in response to sequestration include a delay in hiring of vacant permanent positions and the elimination and reduction in length of season for some seasonal positions. The park employs approximately 135 permanent employees, and approximately 350 summer seasonal employees, with a core season of Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The impacts from reduced seasonal staff will affect several areas of park management, including:
- Delayed trail access and decreased trail maintenance,
- Reduction in native plant restoration,
- Reduced shoulder-season access to campgrounds and visitor centers,
- Decrease in entrance station hours,
- Less maintenance work on park facilities, roads and utility systems,
- Limited and delayed emergency response outside the core season,
- Decreased educational programming and ranger-led activities,
- Less back-country volunteer coordination,
- Reduction of revenue from impacted campgrounds, and
- Reduced partner financial aid assisting interpretive programs resulting from loss of revenue of partner bookstores in park.
Changes to facilities include the following, and a table with all campground and visitor center opening and closing dates follows.
Glacier National Park * Campgrounds and Visitor Centers
2013 Opening and Closing Dates
Most campgrounds have water available, but there are no electrical or water hookups at any campground in the park. Water is not available when a campground is in primitive status. Many campgrounds can accommodate campers and trailers, with some size restrictions. Specific information about each campground, including a map of the sites, operating dates, available services, current and historic fill times, and more is available by visiting http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/camping.
Fish Creek and St. Mary Campground sites, and five group sites at Apgar Campground, may be reserved for camping from June 1 through September 1 via the National Recreation Reservation Service website at http://www.recreation.gov/ or by calling toll free 877-444-6777. Campers without prior reservations are also welcome at these campgrounds, as space is available, for $23/night.
All campgrounds in primitive status cost $10/night. When campgrounds are in primitive status no water is provided. Any water taken from streams or lakes requires treatment before use. Primitive and winter front-country campgrounds include pit toilets, no running water and only a limited number of sites.
Group campsites are available at Apgar, Many Glacier, St. Mary and Two Medicine Campgrounds. Hiker/bicyclist sites are available at Apgar, Avalanche, Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Sprague Creek, and Two Medicine Campgrounds for $5 per person per night, and through reservation at St. Mary and Fish Creek for $8 per person per night.
The seven-day single vehicle entrance fee is $25 and a seven-day single entrance (hiker, bicyclist or motorcyclist) is $12. When park entrance stations are not staffed, an entrance fee is still required. Follow the posted instructions at the self-payment boxes at each entrance station.
An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year from time of purchase of the pass is available for $35. Other passes with America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program are also available. US citizens 62 years of age and older may purchase a lifetime pass for $10, and citizens with a permanent disability may obtain a free lifetime pass. Active duty military members may obtain a free Military Annual Pass. An annual pass available for $80 allows free entrance to federally operated recreation sites across the county, including many National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management sites.
For additional park information please visit Glacier National Park’s web site at http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800. Annual passes may be obtained via credit card over the phone, from Park Headquarters Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or from the west and east entrance stations when staffed.
(Glacier National Park Media Release by Denise Germann – 406-888-5838)