Tag Archives: Crown of the Continent

The ‘Crown’ just got bigger

A researcher heads into Glacier National Park's backcountry - NPS, Melissa Sladek
A researcher heads into Glacier National Park’s backcountry – NPS, Melissa Sladek

This is pretty interesting. The “Crown of the Continent” just expanded a bit, due principally to the efforts of Rick Graetz and some of his students. Many of you will remember Rick for bringing one of his geography classes through the North Fork on an annual basis . . .

The 13 million-acre Crown of the Continent officially just grew by 496,164 acres, the equivalent of 775 square miles.

The Crown has embraced the wildest and largest intact ecosystem in Alberta and the United States, running from the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, since its unofficial inception in the early 1900s. But to Rick Graetz, a University of Montana geography department lecturer and longtime outdoor enthusiast, the lines drawn on the map didn’t take into account what he was seeing on the ground south of Highway 200.

So in 2014, he enlisted the aid of graduate geography students to truth-check his theory. And this week, now that Verena Henner’s mapping project, Katie Shank’s study on biological diversity and wildlife corridors, and Josh Hoerner’s look at topographical maps and GPS readings are finished, Graetz announced their findings.

Read more . . .

Alberta to protect Castle wilderness area north of Waterton-Glacier Park

A couple of weeks ago, Alberta announced plans to protect the Castle wilderness region. Since then, the general press has picked up on the story, including the below AP piece.

Note that this is not the proposed westward extension of Waterton Park into the Canadian Flathead drainage that has seen so much discussion lately . . .

The announcement of two new parks in Alberta has delighted environmental groups that have been fighting decades for their creation.

But the news that it will be shut out of more than 386 square miles of the Castle wilderness region in the province’s southwest corner has angered the forestry industry. “It feels to us a bit like we’re being vilified,” Brock Mulligan of the Alberta Forest Products Association said.

The parks created by the NDP government are almost twice as big as those proposed by the previous Conservative government for the same region. They will also cover valleys and wetlands, while the previous proposal focused on high alpine areas. “It’s almost night and day,” said Sean Nichols of the Alberta Wilderness Association. “This one goes so much further.”

Read more . . .

Castle Wildland and Park - Final
Castle Wildland and Park – Final

Download the full map (PDF – 1.24MB)

Alberta to formally protect 250,000 acres north of Waterton-Glacier Park

Castle Wilderness, Alberta, Canada
Castle Wilderness, Alberta, Canada


Well, this is good news. Alberta is implementing protections for the entire Castle Watershed, just north of Waterton Park . . .

The Alberta government announced Sept. 4 that 250,000 acres just north of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park will be protected from logging and development.

The area, which encompasses the entire Castle Watershed, is part of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, which spans northwestern Montana, southeastern British Columbia, and southwestern Alberta.

Efforts to protect the area date back decades, and on Friday the Canadian government announced the expansion of the existing Castle Wildand and creation of a new provincial park on the Alberta front range. Supporters said the designation will preserve the area’s ecological integrity and offer increased protection for wildlife populations, including trans-boundary grizzly bears, wolverines and cutthroat trout.

Read more . . .

Steven Gnam releases new photo book on Crown of the Continent

Steven Gnam, who does really nice photography work, has just released a new book on the Crown of the Continent . . .

Through the lens of his camera, Steven Gnam has captured the kind of fleeting, untamed moments that might otherwise elude the human eye, disappearing like a puff of vapor in a sprawling chunk of country called the Crown of the Continent – the ecologically diverse landscape spanning the U.S.-Canada border between Missoula and Banff, Alberta.

In his new book, “The Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies,” Gnam not only preserves the wild, ephemeral beauty of those moments, but through them attaches value to the region, defending its role and depicting why it’s critical to pay attention, lest we fritter away the landscape that defines us.

Meant to promote stewardship, “The Wildest Rockies” showcases images that span the boundaries of Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park, tracking along the spine of the Rocky Mountains as the Whitefish native reanimates a landscape brimming with life.

Read more . . .

Effects of climate change on Crown of the Continent uncertain

A recent meeting of land managers along the Crown of the Continent discussed the uncertainties of dealing with the effects of climate change . . .

Glacier National Park’s superintendent once lost a glacier at another park he supervised, and he advises fellow land managers to get used to the feeling.

“You’d better develop your zest for ambiguity,” Jeff Mow told the 2014 Crown Managers Partnership Forum on Tuesday. “The problem with taking risks in the public sector is people just don’t know where they’re going.”

Read more . . .

Study focuses on elusive forest carnivores

A study is underway in the southwest Crown of the Continent ecosystem that attempts to gather more information on smaller, elusive predators such as wolverine, lynx and fisher . . .

A compact disc dangling from the branch of a lodgepole pine catches the morning sunlight and mimics the flash of a snowshoe hare, while the hindquarters of a road-kill deer wired to a nearby bear-rub tree will lure in a suite of small, elusive carnivores that range in the Swan Valley.

Wolverine, lynx and fisher will visit the “bait station,” which bristles with gun bore brushes that collect clumps of the critters’ fur. Subsequent DNA testing, to be completed this summer, will identify the individual animals and help establish a baseline for population and distribution of the three target species, as well as other small carnivores that sniff out the carrion – bobcat, coyote, fox, pine martens, and weasel.

Continue reading . . .

Glacier Park’s future under discussion

Glacier Park officials face several challenges over the next few years . . .

As park officials described it, with both optimism and concern, preserving and protecting the Crown of the Continent is a constant effort.

Aquatic invasive species continue to threaten Glacier National Park. Federal funding is drying up nationwide while lawmakers grapple over a transportation bill. As the top attraction in the state, the park’s escalating popularity is beginning to overwhelm resources and trails.

“What does this mean for the future of Glacier National Park?” Deputy Superintendent Kym Hall asked recently. “How do we maintain that quality visitor experience? Because I assume that’s what people come here for. It’s the Glacier experience, and it’s a unique experience.”

Continue reading . . .

Riversong Crown of the Continent Choir and the Headwaters Ensemble begin tour Friday

The following performance tour announcement was posted today on the “Flathead River Valley” web site, sponsored by a group of environmental organizations from the U.S. and Canada interested in preserving the transboundary Flathead Valley. The tour kicks off with a presentation at Lake McDonald Lodge auditorium on Friday, May 18 at 7:45pm. . .

A Celebration of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park & The Transboundary Flathead River

From soprano winds piercing alpine heights to the bass reverberations of river-rock rolling under spring runoff, the songs of the Crown of the Continent are among the purest hymns in nature – they inspire, uplift and fortify. Spilling from pristine headwaters in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, this clear chorus awakens springtime and rouses us to raise our own voices in celebration of the summer to come.

In honor of these timeless melodies that accompany the turn of the seasons, the 60-voice Crown of the Continent Choir and their select group – The Headwaters Ensemble – are embarking on a circuit around the Crown, wrapping Waterton-Glacier in song. Their voices are accompanied on this journey by the unparalleled images of Steven Gnam – a talented fine-art photographer whose scenes from Waterton-Glacier are quite simply without peer. His astonishing images, combined with soaring choral arrangements, emerge like a wonder of spring color to honor the season.

Beginning at Glacier Park’s historic Lake McDonald Lodge – then traveling through Waterton, Pincher Creek and Fernie – the presentation celebrates 100 years of international peace and goodwill across borders. It also serves as tribute to a century of transboundary conservation in this remarkable mountain intersection of Alberta, British Columbia and Montana.

The Crown of the Continent Choir is a Kalispell-based community choir, directed by Kevin Allen-Schmid. They sing in celebration of our tremendous landscapes, our protected parks, and also for the sheer fun of it. Steven Gnam is a Whitefish native who, in turning his lens to the Crown’s wonders, has presented us the gift of his unequaled artistic vision. Together, they provide a passport to Waterton-Glacier as you’ve never seen it — or heard it – before.

The performances come courtesy of the Crown Choir and Mr. Gram, with support from the National Parks Conservation Association and Wildsight.

RiverSong Performance Schedule:

Friday, May 18 7:45pm Lake McDonald Lodge auditorium, Glacier National Park

Saturday, May19 7:30pm United Church, Waterton Lakes National Park

Sunday, May 20

11am United Church, Pincher Creek, Alberta
4pm The Arts Station, Fernie, British Columbia

Crown of the Continent makes list of “Top 5 American Treasures to Protect in 2012”

The “Crown of the Continent” area in Montana, including the North Fork of the Flathead River, made the list of “Top 5 American Treasures to Protect in 2012” published on Earth Day by the Center for American Progress . . .

The United States is home to some of the most stunning and unique natural areas in the world, including 397 national parks, 101 national monuments, and 556 national wildlife refuges. But many more public lands—managed by the federal government and owned by all Americans—are worthy of protection for future generations. This Earth Day it’s worth thinking about the places that have strong local coalitions calling for protection that should be granted this year.

Continue reading . . .

Wildlife Conservation Society publishes roadless lands assessment for Montana’s Crown of the Continent region

Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana reports that Dr. John Weaver, senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, released a significant report covering the wildlands in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem in Montana. Here’s the meat of the Headwaters Montana announcement . . .

Dr. John Weaver recently published his newest Wildlife Conservation Society monograph titled, Conservation Value of Roadless Areas for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife Species in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, Montana (PDF, 24.8MB).  This work goes a significant distance towards actually measuring the benefits of protecting roadless lands for the long-term survival of fish and wildlife.

The report attempts to answer the question: “What is the conservation value of these roadless areas for vulnerable fish and wildlife that are important to Montanans and others?”

The report undertakes a mapped (or spatial) analysis of two fish (bull and westslope cutthroat trout) and four mammals (grizzly, wolverine, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep) species for the entire Crown of the Continent ecosystem.

Dr. Weaver lists the key threats to these vulnerable species as “habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and climate warming.”

The science of conservation has evolved greatly over the years.  Species conservation now emphasizes large landscapes rather than site-specific assessment.  Species need to be able to move and adjust to changes; they need “resiliency”.

Dr. Weaver uses his mapping process to score roadless lands as “Moderately Important”, “Important”, or “Very Important” to conservation of the selected species.  He then recommends specific designations for the further protection of roadless land habitat as “Wilderness”, “Backcountry”, or “Wildland Restoration”.

The entire working paper is available for download in PDF format. Those of you who don’t want to wade through the whole thing can find the section on the North Fork Flathead River Basin and Ten Lakes Area on pages 116-129.

For the official announcement of the report’s release and some additional background see “Where Will Grizzly Bears Roam?” on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s website.