Tag Archives: National Parks Conservation Association

Glacier’s headwaters: Water tower to our continent

North Fork of the Flathead River - ©Mark LaRowe
North Fork of the Flathead River – ©Mark LaRowe

A few days ago, the National Parks Conservation Association released their Summer 2017 Field Report for the Northern Rockies. In it was an article by Michael Jamison, Crown of the Continent Program Manager, that is highly relevant to the North Fork, as well as any other region downstream of the Canadian Rockies. By permission of the author, it is reprinted here in its entirety . . .

People tend to think Glacier National Park is all about mountains.

And people are wrong.

Glacier is also about water: icy cold water rushing clean and clear across gravel and stone; whitewater plunging over cliff-band falls; sky-blue water eddying into lakes set like sapphires into the deep green of wilderness.

From the summit of the park’s Triple Divide Peak, meltwater flows west to the Pacific, east to the Atlantic, north to the Arctic by way of Hudson Bay. Glacier is water tower to a continent, spiked by peaks sharpened on a grindstone of Pleistocene ice.

I recently flew north out of Glacier, over a long slice of Alaska—another place branded by its mountains. Chugach. Wrangell-St. Elias. The Aleutians and Brooks and Chilkats.

But Alaska, like Glacier, is not really about mountains.

What I saw unfolding below was, again, a wild country defined by water: an endless winding coastline; miles of muskeg pooling like quicksilver; rivers washing the feet of mountains, slicing tundra and stone, spilling sediment braids into an ocean the color of steel.

Montana and Alaska are alike in this way. They also share a common headwater: British Columbia.

Continue reading Glacier’s headwaters: Water tower to our continent

High country rescue: whitebark pine recovery efforts continue

Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 - W. K. Walker
Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 – W. K. Walker

The National Parks Conservation Association had an interesting article in its winter magazine discussing whitebark pine recovery efforts, including the work being done in Glacier National Park . . .

Mountaintop living isn’t easy. At very high elevations, the wind can be fierce, the temperatures bitter, the snow heavy, and the soil thin and crumbly. Most trees simply can’t survive, but the whitebark pine is a notable exception: Somehow, these trees manage to live — and even thrive — in the highest, sketchiest locations. Some have lived at the edge of the treeline for more than 1,000 years.

In Grand Teton National Park, people come across the trees on classic hikes to places such as Lake Solitude and Surprise Lake; at Crater Lake National Park, their twisted trunks and windswept branches appear throughout Rim Village and in the midst of the lake’s blue depths on Wizard Island.

Wherever they are, people notice them. “The architecture of the tree is very dramatic,” said Nancy Bockino, an ecologist at Grand Teton. They look like charismatic bundles of broccoli, she said, particularly when they’re sculpted by wind and weather on exposed slopes.

Read more . . .

Framing the change: an evening of art, science and music

Got a note from the folks at the National Parks Conservation Association about a climate change focused “mulitmedia extravaganza” to be held Saturday, April 26 at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Tickets are $5 at the door. Here’s the write-up, lifted shamelessly from their press release . . .

An Evening of Art, Music & Science, April 26, 2014

Stories from the Mountain, Songs From the Soul

Tales of Climate Change, Inspired by Glacier National Park

A year after Glacier National Park was established in 1910, University of Montana professor Morton Elrod lugged a large camera to a scenic point and snapped a photo of Jackson Glacier. An artist as well as a scientist, Elrod sold park images through his family postcard business.

In 2009 scientist Lisa McKeon photographed the exact same scene from the exact same location. Sideby-side, but separated by 98 years, the twoimagesreveal a striking truth of climate change — a great glacier nearly gone in less than a century. That stark contrast has inspired a new generation of artists to translate science back into art, bringing attention to the urgent issues of climate change.

Two of those artists will be in Whitefish on April 26 to join scientists and musicians for an evening of visual stories, reflection and knowledge about the real-world impacts of climate change caused by carbon pollution. These creative thinkers bring planetary climate change down to the human scale, prompting us to grapple with how our species and others can adapt to a powerful new reality. The multi-media extravaganza caps a day of gatherings in 14 Montana communities, including five in the Flathead, seeking Montana climate solutions.

WHAT: Stories from the Mountain, Songs from the Soul
          Tales of Climate Change, Inspired by Glacier National Park
WHERE: Whitefish, O’Shaughnessy Center, Tickets $5 at the door
WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.
WHO: Artists, scientists and musicians including:

  • Dan Fagre, Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, West Glacier
  • Lisa McKeon, Physical Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey, West Glacier
  • Diane Burko, Painter, Philadelphia
  • Joy von Wolffersdorff, Professor of Art, Northridge, California
  • The Crown of the Continent Choir
  • Left Side Brains, Youthful bluegrass

Earlier on April 26th, residents in five Flathead towns will spotlight Montana climate solutions through community discussions, music, and rallies. All events begin at noon.

BIGFORK: Climate and Community Gathering, Downtown Bigfork: Join your neighbors to discuss the issues, ask questions, explore solutions, and take action. Noon

COLUMBIA FALLS: Honk and Wave in Support of Climate Solutions, Highway 2 and Nucleus.

Rally for climate solutions. Bring signs to support climate solutions. Noon.

KALISPELL: Jamming for Climate Solutions, Depot Park Rally, featuringthe Tropical Montana Marimba Ensemble. Bring signs to support climate solutions. Noon.

PABLO: Roundtable Discussion with speakers, Salish Kootenai College, The Late Louie Caye Sr. Memorial Building. Lunch Provided. 12-3 p.m.

WHITEFISH: Dance a Jig, Honk and Wave for Climate Solutions, Corner of Spokane and 2nd Street, featuring the youthful bluegrass sounds of the Left Side Brains. Noon.

“Climate change is a big hairy challenge,” said Laura Behenna, coordinator of the Kalispell event. “We’re trying to make sense of the science through the most human of endeavors: art, music, sharing stories, talking with your neighbors. By meeting the climate challenge at a personal and community level, we can begin to find the abundant climate solutions available to us as Montanans.”

To learn more about specific events contact local coordinators:

Bigfork: Jeffrey Funk, 837-4208

Columbia Falls: Diane Taylor, 892-1640

Kalispell: Laura Behenna, 257-2116

Whitefish: Steve Thompson, 250-9810

Pablo: Kirwin Werner, 676-8988

For more information about An Evening of Art, Music & Science, contact:Michael Jamison, National Parks Conservation Association, 862-6722 Steve Thompson, Glacier Climate Action, 250-9810

Contact info for the scientists, artists and musicians is available by request.

Diane Burko is a painter and photographer based in Philadelphia. Her “Politics of Snow” project draws upon the Glacier repeat photography project and similar projects around the world. She is devoted to using her art to bring attention to the urgent issues of climate change.

Joy von Wolffersdorff is an art professor at California State University Northridge. Although her first love in art is drawing, she uses whatever medium she feels will most effectively express a given concept. She is currently focused on creating gathering places for scientists and artists who are working on climate change.

Craig Hodges directs the Crown of the Continent Choir, volunteers who sing for fun and perform for social justice, environmental stewardship, spiritual fulfillment and community service.

USGS scientists Dan Fagre and Lisa McKeon have created an exhibit, Losing a Legacy: A photographic story of disappearing glaciers, to showcase photographs from their Repeat Photography Project. The collection consists of historic glacier photographs paired with contemporary photographs, a juxtaposition that reveals dramatic reductions in glacier size. Since they began their rephotography efforts in 1997, over 100 photographs of 20 different glaciers have been repeated. Each summer they capture more images to add to their growing collection

Environmental groups petition to intervene in Badger-Two Medicine oil & gas lawsuit

Our friends on the other side of the Divide are not happy about an oil exploration threat to the the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .

Several environmental groups have petitioned to intervene in a legal battle over a disputed oil and gas claim in the Badger-Two Medicine area about two miles southeast of Glacier National Park.

Solonex, a Louisiana-based oil and gas company sued the Forest Service and the Department of Interior claiming it has been illegally prevented from exploring about 6,200 acres of land it leases for oil and gas. Solonex obtained the leases in 1982, but over the years the government continually delayed exploration.In 1998, the government suspended exploration activities there indefinitely. Solonex, which is owned by Sidney Longwell, claims this is a violation of federal law. Congress can allow delays but can’t suspend activities on leased lands indefinitely, Solonex claims.

Late last month, the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, based in Browning, and the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, headquartered in East Glacier, applied for intervenor status in the lawsuit. The National Parks Conservation Association, Montana Wilderness Association and the Wilderness Society also filed for intervenor status.

Read more . . .

“Banquet on the Border” draws 90 attendees

Monday, August 20th was the Banquet on the Border; by all reports, a resounding success. Dave Haddon of Headwaters Montana wrote an excellent report on the whole affair. Since this report is still not available online, I am shamelessly stealing adapting large portions of it here . . .

The Banquet on the Border – last Monday, August 20 – celebrated the British Columbia government’s 2011 official act of banning mining and energy development on their side of the watershed; the progress made to date to do the same in the U.S North Fork with Senate Bill 233 (the North Fork Watershed protection Act – still pending); and the other work that is moving forward to enhance protections for water and wildlife in the rest of the watershed, most notably:

  • Completing Waterton-Glacier Peace Park by adding the ‘Missing Piece’ in the BC Flathead, and
  • Protecting the existing international wildlife corridor between Whitefish and Banff National Park.

Headwaters Montana and National Parks Conservation Association organized the party for the south side of the boundary.  Wildsight did so for the north.

Who Showed Up?

We invited the U.S. Border Patrol.  But with the exception of a brief drive up and turn around we were left to securing our own borders and enjoying our neighborliness.

The Canadians outnumbered the Americans 3 to 2 but who’s counting?  Their greater numbers stemmed from the week-long Flathead Bioblitz and Flathead Artists’ Workshop that was based at the Canadian border and had concluded the day before

In addition to the ten Canadian and U.S. scientists who attended the bioblitz and some ten artists, members of the Flathead Wild Team and supporters filled out the Canadian tables.

On the U.S. side, Headwaters Montana board members and supporters showed up in good numbers, as well as representatives of the North Fork Preservation Association, board members of the Flathead Coalition, and The North Fork Landowners Association, North Fork Compact, and representatives for Senator Max Baucus.

20 Years Ago

Steve Thompson with the Cinnabar Foundation (Montana’s home-grown conservation fund) helped deepen the Banquet-goer’s appreciation for this far flung event by reminding folks that champions of the Transboundary Flathead had celebrated with a banquet at the same spot 20 years ago.  Amazingly, four people from that 1992 event were on hand last week... [Our own John Frederick was one of them. – ed.]

Proposed bill could open up Glacier Park to Homeland Security projects

An important story posted to this week’s Hungry Horse News concerning the so-called “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.” Recommended reading . . .

Glacier National Park’s border with Canada is marked by broad prairies and majestic mountains. A bill in Congress co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Rehberg could conceivably allow the Department of Homeland Security to put roads and other access venues in areas currently managed as wilderness.

The proposed “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act” would give Homeland Security broad powers over land that borders foreign countries.

According to the bill, “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall have immediate access to any public land managed by the federal government (including land managed by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture) for purposes of conducting activities that assist in securing the border (including access to maintain and construct roads, construct a fence, use vehicles to patrol, and set up monitoring equipment).”

The bill also would allow Homeland Security to waive a host of environmental laws…

Continue reading . . .

Web site aims to protect Glacier Park and its surroundings

From this week’s Hungry Horse News . . .

A new Web site created by the National Parks Conservation Association aims to expose some of the threats facing Glacier National Park.

ProtectGlacier.com keeps an eye on the Park’s environmental news and showcases legislation NPCA and other partners support, most notably the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.

The Act, sponsored by Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, would ban any future mining and energy development in the North Fork watershed.

Continue reading . . .

Conservation photographers create exhibit highlighting threats to Flathead Valley

From today’s Flathead Beacon . . .

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a group of conservation photographers is giving the Flathead an ample voice as an exhibit on the values of and threats to the valley heads to Washington D.C.

Read the entire story . . .

NPCA information on North Fork and Glacier Park

With all the coverage the Trans-boundary Flathead has gotten over the past few weeks, it seemed appropriate to point out that the U.S.-based National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) also has a dog in that fight. They maintain a web page discussing the threats to Glacier Park and the adjoining Flathead River Valley arising from potential resource development in the Canadian Flathead, as well as links to a great deal of supporting material and related documentation. The NPCA is also advocating for the U.N. to designate Waterton-Glacier Park as an endangered World Heritage Site, a move that would focus additional international attention on  the situation.

Canadian Flathead left out of natural-gas deal

From the Saturday, December 6, 2008 online edition of the Daily Inter Lake . . .

BP Canada on Friday received natural-gas rights for a potential energy project in a segment of British Columbia watched closely by environmental activists in both the province and in Montana.

British Columbia granted the rights to BP for its proposed Mist Mountain coal-bed methane project in the province’s southeast, after the Flathead River Basin was removed from the project area. In the debate about possible environmental effects from Mist Mountain coal-bed methane work, the border-spanning Flathead had been particularly prominent, with activists in Montana raising the specter of harm traveling downstream.

Even with the Flathead removed, the prospect of the coal-bed methane project in combination with other current and proposed industrial activity in southeastern British Columbia is alarming, said Will Hammerquist of the National Parks Conservation Association in Whitefish near Glacier National Park, which extends to the British Columbia border.

Read the entire article . . .