Glacier National Park Budget Cuts Mean Fewer Rangers, Less Trail Maintenance, Reduced Services

Glacier National Park continues to be open every day, but you'll encounter a slight reduction in services this summer due to budget cuts. Kurt Repanshek photo.

While Glacier National Park officials fully expect the Going-to-the-Sun Road to be open on schedule this summer, budget cuts forced on the agency will mean reductions in other areas of park operations that will impact visitors.

The federal budget sequestration is cutting $682,000 from Glacier's base operations budget of $13.5 million for the remaining months of the current fiscal year that ends September 30. Those cuts mean fewer seasonal rangers to handle trail maintenance, interpretive programs, and emergency response, said acting-Superintendent Kym Hall.

Additionally, the park will reduce native plant restoration, shoulder-season access to campgrounds and visitor centers, entrance station hours, maintenance work on park facilities, roads and utility systems, and back-country volunteer coordination. It also will see reduced revenues from impacted campgrounds, and reduced partner financial aid assisting interpretive programs resulting from loss of revenue of partner bookstores in park.

However, thanks to $10,000 from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, snowplowing on the Sun Road will continue on schedule, said the superintendent.

The donation from the Conservancy, along with 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.

“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," said Superintendent Hall.

Snow plowing efforts throughout Glacier 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. “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," said the superintendent. However, she added, some other road maintenance activities, such as grading, striping and patching, will be reduced in the fall.

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.

Here's a look at some of the changes to facility and campground hours/openings in Glacier due to the budget cuts (details below):

* Apgar Visitor Center. Seven-day operations delayed by two weeks this spring, transition to weekend-only hours five weeks earlier in the fall, along with reduced daily hours of operations.

* Logan Pass Visitor Center. Will close two weeks earlier than normal in fall, no water available when the center does close in fall.

* St. Mary Visitor Center. Will close approximately one month earlier in the fall, reduced hours in the evenings.

* Bowman Lake Campground. Services reduced one week earlier in the fall, primitive camping may be limited.

* Cut Bank Campground. Will close one week earlier in the fall.

* Kintla Campground. Will open three weeks later than normal, primitive camping may be limited.

* Many Glacier Campground. Will remain open one week later than normal in fall, primitive camping will be limited in the fall.

* Rising Sun Campground. Will close one week earlier in the fall.

* Sprague Campground. Ten-day delay in spring opening, will close one week earlier in the fall.

* St. Mary Campground. Services reduced one week in spring and one week in fall.

* Two Medicine Campground. Will close one week earlier than normal in the fall, no primitive camping in the fall, picnic and day-use areas will be available through September.

* Goat Lick. Will close three weeks earlier than normal in the fall.

Campgrounds and Visitor Centers 2013 Opening and Closing Dates

* Apgar Campground. Open May 3 through October 13. $20 per night. Primitive camping in picnic area October 14-31 and April 1-May2; $10 per night November 1-March 31. Free with valid entrance pass.

* Avalanche Campground. Open June 21-September 2. $20 per night. No primitive camping.

* Bowman Lake Campground. Open May 24-September 2. $15 per night. Primitive camping September 3-October 31 (weather dependent). $10 per night. November 1-winter closure, free with valid entrance pass.

* Cut Bank Campground. Open June 7-September 8. $10 per night. Operated in primitive status all season.

* Fish Creek Campground. Open June 1-September 1. $23 per night. National Recreation Reservation System Camground, no primitive camping.

* Kintla Lake Campground. Open June 14-September 2. $15 per night. Primitive camping September 3-Octoboer 31 (weather permitting). $10 per night. November 1-winter closure, free with valid entrance pass.

* Logging Creek Campground. Open July 1-September 22. $10 per night. Operated in primitive status all summer.

* Many Glacier Campground. Open May 24-September 22. $20 per night. Primitive camping September 23-29 (weather dependent). $10 per night.

* Quartz Creek Campground. Open July 1-October 30. $10 per night. Operated in primitive status all summer.

* Rising Sun Campground. Open May 24-September 2. $20 per night. No primitive camping.

* Sprague Creek Campground. Open May 20-September 2. $20 per night. No primitive camping.

* St. Mary Campground. Open May 24-September 8. $20/$23 per night. May 24-30 and September 2-8, $20 per night; June 1-September 1, National Recreation Reservation System, $23 per night; primitive camping April 1-May 23 and September 9-October 31, $10 per night; November 1-March 31, free with valid entrance pass.

* Two Medicine Campground. Open May 24-September 8, $20 per night, no primitive camping.

* Apgar Visitor Center. Open daily May 18-September 15; open weekends September 15-May 17. May 18-June 14, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; June 15-September 2, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., September 3-September 15, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; September 16-mid-May, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m weekends only.

* Logan Pass Visitor Center. Opens when Going-to-the-Sun Road access is available through September 15. Spring opening-September 2, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; September 3-September 15, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; when visitor center closes, vault toilets available, but no water.

* St. Mary Visitor Center. Open May 25-September 15. May 25-June 29, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; June 30-August 17, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; August 18-September 15, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Auditorium open when summer evening programs are scheduled.

* Goat Lick Visitor Center. Open May 1-September 9.

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.

Comments

I'd very much like to learn the details about park management's plans to reduce volunteer coordination.