Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park Website
We strongly encourage scientific research about natural resource, cultural resource, and social science issues in Glacier National Park. The following is an extensive list of current, high priority research needs in Glacier National Park. The list was created by park staff. We have listed those needs that we know are critical for management of the park. You may use this list to guide you in developing a research project that will fulfill your interests and our information needs.
We have grouped potential research projects into 8 categories. Some of the research topics are broad and some are specific. Some of the broad categories may have been partially studied. Each need is listed only once. Because some needs are interdisciplinary, we suggest scanning topic areas in addition to your primary interest. (For example, wildlife studies are found in the “animals” and “social sciences” sections.)
If you are interested in pursuing one of these topics or you have an additional research project that would be valuable to the park, by all means, get in touch with park staff. You can discuss the potential research project (including whether the project is being studied or not), the permitting process, timelines, funding opportunities, and investigator responsibilities. Park staff members are familiar with past research projects and can help point investigators to published and unpublished literature and potentially complementary data sets.
This list of research needs will be added to and developed more fully with time. Feel free to check back periodically. We expect to add information on resources available and references of interest in the future.
Natural features (glacial geology, geomorphology, paleontology, soils)
Plants (native plants, exotic weeds, plant communities, restoration)
Animals (amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles)
Environmental factors (air quality, climate change, hydrology, water
Ecosystems (aquatic ecology, ecosystem modeling, landscape ecology)
Disturbance (fire, natural disturbances, soundscape, other human-induced
History and culture (historical studies, cultural studies, architectural research,
library and curatorial collections)
Social sciences (impacts of visitors on park resources; visitor perceptions,
expectations, knowledge and behavior)
Glacier National Park is known for its spectacular mountains. The park encompasses 1.08 million acres, 95% of which is recommended wilderness, and consists of mountains that form the Continental Divide. Two somewhat parallel mountain ranges (the Livingstone Range to the west and the Lewis Range to the east) dominate the park. The foundation of the Crown of the Continent is the sedimentary rocks of the Precambrian-aged Belt Supergroup that were laid down between 900 million and 1.325 billion years ago. The layers in the Belt Supergroup are extraordinarily well-delineated, well-preserved, and contain the most diverse and best preserved assemblage of stromatolites in North America. Mountain building, including the creation of the Rocky Mountains, occurred more recently. The more visible high mountains in Glacier National Park were formed by a process called the Lewis Overthrust (beginning 170 million years ago). Ancient Proterozoic rocks were thrust over Cretaceous-aged rocks. The upper Proterozoic rocks are 1,500 million years older than the underlying Cretaceous rocks. The Lewis Overthrust is exceptionally visible in the park. During the Pleistocene (2 million years ago), the area that is now Glacier National Park was covered by glaciers. The Park has had at least 10 periods of widespread glaciation. The last major advance occurred during the Pinedale glaciation. Ice from the last glaciation started melting 12,000 to 13,000 years ago and was 90% gone 11,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, the glaciers in the park were about the size of current glaciers and most likely in the same locations. As the climate changed and the glaciers eroded and eventually disappeared, a dramatic landscape of U-shaped valleys, knifelike ridges, hanging valleys, and cirques was left behind. The geologic forces of weathering and erosion continue to make impacts on this landscape. During the mid-19th century, more than 150 glaciers advanced their furthest extent since the Pinedale. The 34 currently extant, named, high alpine mountain glaciers were created during the Little Ice Age (which began around 1200 A.D.). These glaciers have been receding since the mid-19th century and continue to do so today.
Conduct an historical survey of glaciers and glacial landforms. Historical photos are available for photo-documentation of the changing glaciers.
Research of how observed glacier changes might affect streams and surface characteristics across a mountain landscape is of interest to ecosystem modeling and climate change research. Further work in the Glacier NP area is needed to complete regional assessment of glacial recession, and address climatological and ecological implications.
Investigate microbial and macroinvertebrate communities in glaciers and whether they differ by substrate, geographic location, and glacier type surface.
Research airborne particle size and composition to determine source area.
Research and evaluate the significance of wind erosion in the park, segregating the impacts of wind erosion from other erosion-causing agents.
Research wind effects on tree development at tree line.
Identify where wetlands occur, variations in the aerial extent of wetlands from year to year and the impact of glacier fluctuations on wetlands.
Develop comprehensive wetland area inventories that classify wetland type, describe plant species, and evaluate/project successional status based on changes in hydrologic regime.
Research overall groundwater budget with respect to climate change.
Develop a “lake ice model” using existing meteorological data and local records.
Research how changes in stream channel morphology affect nutrient cycling, thermal diversity, and macroinvertebrates.
Research the influence of woody debris on streamflow, using McDonald Creek as a research area.
Determine the relative importance of mass movement vs. stream transport and the importance of rainfall.
Help resource staff prepare a Cave Management Plan to protect the resources found in six known park caves, provide for managed access, assure visitor safety, and identify additional research needs.
Continue study of why the northern Rocky Mountains exist so far inland from a continental margin. How compressional stresses were translated so far inland remains a geologic enigma.
Continue investigations into stromatolites and fossils of Cretaceous period.
The Belt Supergroup records rare Precambrian-aged environments, yet a detailed correlation of the rocks present in the park and those found to the south, north, and west has not been completed.
Ongoing discussion of life during the Precambrian age demands more detailed, microscopic study of the preserved sedimentary Belt rocks of Glacier.
Investigate the erodability difference between Conophyton and Baicalia stromatolites.
Investigate climate patterns during the last 10,000 – 30,000 years. Can detailed climate reconstructions be completed from pollen records?
Describe the different vegetation communities and how they have changed over the last 13,000 years.
Determine treeline fluctuations during the Holocene.
Investigate changes in the frequency and extent of disturbances, such as fire and avalanches, during the Holocene.
Determine changes in ecological conditions in Glacier’s lakes during the last 13,000 years.
Augment the park’s existing soil survey and correlate the soil survey with the NRCS National Cooperative Soil Survey Program so as to be compatible with regional and national soils information as follows:
(1) Initiate an Integrated Resource Inventory (soil survey) for Glacier, combining information on soils, landscapes, geology, geomorphology, and existing vegetation and potential plant communities into a GIS system meeting SSURGO standards, including a soil attribute database in the National Soil Information System (NASIS) data structure, and FGDC compliant metadata.
(2) Provide comprehensive information on soil distribution and characteristics throughout Glacier NP. Create a parkwide General Soils map, as well as provide a location map of all soil pedons observations and soil laboratory sample sites.
(3) Create a soil survey manuscript developed from the data map unit information downloaded from the NASIS database. Develop an interpretive soil survey legend as well as a soil taxonomic legend.
(4) Develop soil information and education products such as soil fact sheets, soil landscape, vegetation, and climatic graphics, as well as representative soil monoliths of the soils of Glacier NP.
Glacier National Park encompasses 1.08 million acres composed of conifer forests, grasslands, riparian areas, aspen groves, and rock. Vegetation patterns in Glacier National Park are complex and dynamic. The current distribution of vegetation was originally influenced by the post-Pleistocene retreat of glaciers as continental ice and mountain glaciers melted and unvegetated habitats were created and exposed to plant invasion around 13,000 to 11,000 years ago. Other factors that continue to affect where plants are found today include elevation, temperature, and disturbance factors such as fire. In addition, several floristic regions (Cordilleran—including Cascade and Rocky Mountains Subprovinces, Boreal, Arctic-alpine, and Great Plains Provinces) meet in the park resulting in many plant species meeting the limits of their distribution. The major community types that are currently found in Glacier include: grasslands, pine or woodland savannahs, bottomland forests, ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests, western red-cedar/western hemlock forests, spruce/fir forests, and alpine communities. Cedar/hemlock forests are the most diverse communities and include almost all of the tree species found in Glacier National Park. Less prevalent community types include marshes, swamps, lakes, and barren, rocky talus slopes. Although these lesser community types cover only a small portion of the park, they contribute to overall diversity and contain many of the park’s rare species. Seventy of Glacier’s vascular plant species are on Montana’s sensitive plant list and 18 of these species are found nowhere else in Montana. Major factors contributing to the high floristic diversity in Glacier include the contrast between climates of the east and west sides of the Continental Divide, the sharp topographic relief, and the wide range of soil acidity/alkalinity.
Most of the plant communities are similar to how they were when the park was founded in 1910 and most of the plants are native. However, not all native plant communities are intact. Whitebark pine, a keystone species that is important for the health of many wildlife populations, is less abundant than it was historically. Also, many introduced species are now found in the park, especially in disturbed areas. Out of the 1,132 vascular plant species found in Glacier National Park, 127 species are introduced, non-native plants. Fourteen of these plant species are state-listed noxious weeds. Noxious weeds are characterized by being aggressive; they can displace native plants even in intact native communities. Some of the most problematic noxious weeds are oxeye daisy, spotted knapweed, St. Johnswort, and leafy spurge. Noxious weeds are mainly found in disturbed areas along roads, stream courses, and in campgrounds. Each summer, technicians treat or remove noxious weeds. Glacier also has a restoration program that plants native species. These restoration activities are focused on the areas where weeds are found and in other areas that are impacted by human activities (roads, buildings, and campgrounds).
Analyze human use of wild berries. Each year unknown quantities of wild berries are collected and exported from the Park for human consumption. The impact of this loss of biomass, nutrients, energy, and forage is completely unknown.
Perform a Level 2 vascular plant inventory. Desired results include: developing a thorough inventory of plant species in the park, quantifying the distribution and abundance of species of concern (e.g., locally rare native species and habitats, invasive exotic species, species-area relationships, species affinities to cover types), and developing an unbiased series of plots suitable for future long-term monitoring.
Determine the abundance and distribution of plant species as they define habitats of concern such as wetland fens. Assess the completeness of rare plant inventories and their correlation with habitats of concern.
Inventory and map selected populations of rare plants.
Develop an inventory of mushrooms and other fungi in Glacier National Park, including data on substrates, habitats, distribution, and fruiting season. The park does not have a database of fungi for the park.
Mine herbariums for specimens collected in Glacier National Park to include specimen data in park database. A literature survey should be conducted to determine where early explorers’ deposited their work, and herbariums such as University of Montana, Montana State University, New York Botanical Garden (Williams, Vreeland), Northwestern University in Illinois, (Umbach, McLaughlin), Utah State University (Maguire), U.S. Forest Service in Missoula (Hermann), Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (Schuyler), and possibly others should be mined for data. NPS is already conducting work at larger institutions, such as the Smithsonian, and we have been sent data from University of Washington.
Study response of huckleberry to fire. How many years does it take for berry production to resume to normal? Compare sites by fire severity, soil type, soil moisture, slope, and aspect.
Conduct inventories for Botrychium lineare. This species is a Candidate for listing as Threatened or Endangered. All known populations in or near the park are found in human-disturbed habitats. Can the species be found in more natural settings? There is also potential to collaborate on a project to describe a Botrychium species newly identified to science.
Study biology of Corydalis sempervirens (Fumariaceae), a very rare plant that is found only in the first few years after fire. We have only a handful of historical records for it in the park (1894, 1901, 1928, 1989, and 2002). In 2002, a very large population was found in the Moose fire perimeter. Several more populations cropped up in 2004, and there is great opportunity to find more populations and to study how long they persist in the near future.
Expand upon the current inventory of lichens, mosses, and liverworts: complete the inventory and begin to establish the distribution and abundance of these species. Emphasize those species most likely to be affected by air pollution and that are potential indicators of ecosystem health. Collect specimens for park herbariums.
Determine the abundance and current and potential distribution of invasive plant species. This study would be conducted for known exotic species and several potential species currently documented as small populations or occurring nearby.
Classify plant communities based on their vulnerability to alien plant invasion.
Determine potential alien plant invaders. Predict vulnerability of different plant communities to the establishment of exotic species not currently in the area.
Develop strategies to contain and control targeted weed populations using an integrated approach and including a follow-up restoration strategy to prevent replacement by more weeds.
There are a handful of weed species that have varieties native to the western U.S. as well as weedy varieties introduced from Europe. It would be interesting to pin down whether the weed species that occur in Glacier are the native or exotic strains.
Determine effectiveness of herbicide treatments on noxious weed infestations.
Map functional wetlands and riparian areas in priority areas. Produce an inventory and characterization (soil, vegetation, hydrology) of riparian and wetland habitats within the park, utilizing and augmenting existing data and mapping/classification protocols.
Study the effects of fire on eastside aspen stands. Determine the current health of aspen stands.
Conduct grassland inventories to provide information on condition, species composition, and the extent of exotic invasion in native grasslands.
Map and assess status of sensitive plant communities and rare plant populations within them. Focus on bog or mire communities, which are particularly sensitive and harbor many rare plant species, and conduct a more detailed study of the vegetation dynamics and their drivers within these communities. Define and prioritize sensitive habitats, such as old-growth forest. Analyze the habitat distributions to determine regional sensitivity and assess the future vulnerability of key habitats.
Some communities in Glacier harbor several different species of rare plants. What are the characteristics of these communities that makes them so conducive to rare plants (generally wetland/alpine habitats)? Map these communities and rare plants.
Conduct a vegetation/fire history study utilizing bog cores/pollen identification to determine vegetation changes and historical fire events going back hundreds and possibly thousands of years.
Conduct a literature review of historical vegetation management actions in the park. This background information will be used in the park’s Vegetation Management Plan.
Develop genetic inventories of plant populations that are used to restore native communities. How far can seeds of a given species be transferred from their original source before they would be outside the range of their particular genetic strain?
Evaluate the physical and chemical properties of soils at undisturbed sites, compacted and denuded sites, and restored sites. How long does it take a restored site to have similar soil characteristics to an undisturbed site? How effective are standard revegetation techniques of soil scarification and amendment at returning viable soil characteristics including cation exchange, water movement and microbial populations?
Evaluate different methods of soil rehabilitation, including scarification amendment, and compare them to non-amended sites where planting has also occurred. Look especially at the effect of effective soil rehabilitation on the ability of seeded material to germinate and establish.
Determine the mycorrhizal species that are associated with plant species used in restoration. What mycorrhizal species are associated with native plant communities of interest in various plant community types? Are these critical to rehabilitation efforts?
Evaluate the rate at which mycorrhizae and other soil microorganisms recolonize a disturbed site. Evaluate undisturbed, disturbed, and revegetated sites.
What are effective methods of site inoculation of required soil fungi – and what are these required soil fungi?
What is the genetic diversity of mycorrhizal species – is this an important consideration when deciding to import topsoil?
What are the most cost effective and beneficial ways to produce mycorrhizae for inoculation of plants and restoration sites?
Does the use of mulches limit seed germination and seed rain potential at restoration sites. What are the most beneficial mulches?
What revegetation species are most resistant to degradation by herbicide treatments used for exotic plant control in Glacier?
Continue investigating appropriate methods for the propagation of difficult species such as various mosses, ferns, Xerophyllum tenax, Luzula species., Menziesia ferruginea, Vaccinium species, and others.
Study several aspects relating to development of a whitebark and limber pine restoration strategy. Sub-projects could stand alone or multiple aspects could be combined into a single project:
(1) Survey recent natural wildland fires for natural regeneration of whitebark pine.
(2) Study natural presence of rust-resistance of whitebark pine or limber pine to white pine blister rust.
(3) Assess status of limber pine, current threats to the species, and develop a restoration strategy for this species, which like whitebark pine, has suffered from white pine blister rust.
Glacier National Park and the surrounding Crown of the Continent ecosystem harbor an unusually intact assemblage of native wildlife species. Unlike the rest of the Lower Forty-eight of the USA, most native species that were historically found in Glacier are still found here. Bison and mountain caribou have been lost in the past 200 years, but most species such as grizzly bears, mountain goats, Harlequin Ducks, Common Loons, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and boreal toads still breed in Glacier. Because most of the native species are still present in Glacier, the populations of these species are important to populations elsewhere. Glacier might be a reservoir for declining populations outside of the park. Glacier also serves as a potential corridor linking populations outside of the park genetically. Perhaps Glacier’s greatest gift is what it can offer scientists who are interested in the effects of management actions such as logging, mining, and grazing on wildlife species. With its more natural conditions and more intact complement of species, Glacier would be a good “control” area for comparison with areas managed for commodity production.
While almost the full complement of wildlife species is still found in Glacier, some of the ecosystems probably function differently than they once did. Nonnative plants and animals have been introduced and natural processes such as fire have been altered so the systems may not function similarly to how they did before the park was created. Also, loss of wildlife species outside of the park is likely to affect the health of species inside the park through loss of immigrant individuals and genetic diversity.
The aquatic ecosystems are not as pristine as the terrestrial systems. 23 fish species (15 native and 7 nonnative) inhabit lakes and rivers in the park. Many of the lakes (including fishless lakes) and rivers have been radically changed by the planting of exotic fish. Popular sport fishes were introduced time and again. Even many of the native fish species were planted in areas where they were not found historically. While fish introductions in Glacier have ceased, the effects of these introductions will be long-lasting. Nonnative fish produce 2 kinds of disturbance: (1) corruption of indigenous gene pools and (2) alterations to ecological relationships. 15 native fish species still are found in Glacier, but the population numbers of several of these species are low compared to historic numbers. There is great concern for bull trout (federally listed as threatened) in particular. Bull trout are still found in many lakes but their numbers are low and they are not reproducing as well as they once did.
Some of the greater research needs for fish and wildlife species include estimating the status and trends of all fish and wildlife species, understanding spatial scale and connectivity within and outside of the park, and determining the effects of recreation on wildlife and fish (also discussed in social sciences section). Specific research projects are enumerated below.
Examine the genetics of amphibian populations. Are amphibians in Glacier NP subdivided genetically? If so, what are the barriers to gene flow? For example, do lakes with fish act as barriers and increase genetic fragmentation?
What are the environmental influences (e.g., weather, topography, vegetation) on dispersal of metamorphosed amphibians from breeding areas?
Why are tailed frogs scarce in the northwest quarter of Glacier NP?
Further elucidate the status, trends, and distribution of amphibian species in Glacier National Park. Document breeding locations for tailed frogs and boreal toads.
Study the effects of climate change on amphibian distribution and health.
Quantify biotic and abiotic attributes of Common Loon habitat and determine cause and effect relationships among loons and environmental and human disturbance factors.
Assess the health of Common Loon populations in Glacier. Use non-invasive observational techniques to study Common Loon nesting behavior and success. Gather information on primary and alternate nest locations, brood-rearing and foraging sites, territorial boundaries, areas of greatest vulnerability to predation or human interference, staging areas, and the timing of nesting activity.
Inventory avian species that use whitebark pine stands. Determine species occurrences, nesting activity, and habitat selection in whitebark pine. Estimate the effects of the loss of whitebark pine on species that utilize this habitat.
Conduct systematic (diurnal) raptor nesting surveys, develop computerized nest record data base, and monitor nesting activity and productivity.
Determine the ecological conditions of the Upper McDonald Valley in relation to the high-density and high-productivity nesting population of Harlequin Ducks. Sampling riparian vegetation, water quality and aquatic invertebrates in relation to Harlequin Duck productivity will provide a description of abiotic and biotic conditions important to this duck population. Evaluate human impacts from roads, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and administrative sites on Harlequin Duck numbers and nesting success.
Determine the distribution and habitat relationships of nocturnal owls in developed, roadside, and backcountry areas. Conduct nest surveys for Boreal and Great Gray Owls in developed areas.
Determine songbird distribution, frequency of occurrence, and reproductive success among different vegetation communities. Create bird-habitat relationship models.
Inventory, monitor, and analyze the presence, behavior, and impacts of European Starlings on native birds.
Inventory, monitor, and analyze the presence, behavior, and impacts of Brown-headed Cowbirds on nesting success of native birds. Investigate the relationships among and distances between foraging, roosting, and nest parasitism areas.
Document migration by Golden Eagles and other raptors through Glacier National Park. Knowledge of numbers, species, timing, routes, weather, and other related factors is needed.
Determine current and potential wildlife diseases present in the park. Develop a monitoring program for the incidences of wildlife diseases.
Assess the timberline race of the Brewer’s Sparrow in Glacier NP. The distribution, population status, and habitat requirements of this race (potentially a separate species) are unknown.
Survey for Black Swift nesting colonies, emphasizing areas at or near waterfalls. The extent of the occurrence and health of these nesting colonies are unknown.
Determine the distribution, status and trend of Harlequin Ducks on streams in Glacier NP. Occupancy and productivity on upper McDonald Creek has been relatively well documented, but little is known about use and productivity on other streams.
Develop a protocol for sampling Clark’s Nutcracker populations to determine distribution and trend.
Determine the distribution, status and trend of forest-nesting raptors, especially Northern Goshawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks.
Repeat a parkwide inventory of lakes to identify fish species present and their DNA composition.
Analyze human use of native fish on fish populations in Glacier NP. The impact of the loss of biomass, nutrients, energy and forage on aquatic food webs is completely unknown.
What is the degree of hybridization in native bull trout? Conduct fish inventories and genetic analyses of bull trout and cutthroat trout populations in selected park lakes and streams. The major concern is that hybridization and/or introgression between native and introduced trout may have progressed significantly during the past two decades or occurred recently among populations where genetic corruption was not previously recorded.
Develop practical strategies that will enable native species to co-exist more successfully with introduced fishes in Lake McDonald basin. Document the scale of damage to important fish habitats in the basin, and the consequences of human manipulations on the lake’s trophic structure, including the indigenous fishery. Evaluate the feasibility of selected mitigating actions that could forestall or possibly halt further degradation of the system. Experiment with control measures aimed at suppressing lake trout numbers. Identify key life history requirements essential for the continued existence of native fish in the basin. Explore opportunities to enhance spawning success and improve the survival of native fish.
Study the bull trout population in Upper Kintla Lake. Document food habits, age and growth characteristics, movements, reproductive biology, pathology, and parasites associated with this population. Establish the taxonomic status of the population and identify any special life-history adaptations unique to this population.
Conduct basic inventories of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate species.
Compare species diversity, relative abundance, composition, and endemism of invertebrate species (e.g., bees, butterflies, spiders) among vegetation communities.
Capture and radio-track mountain lions within selected park areas to learn more about home range characteristics, seasonal habitat use, wolf-lion interactions, food habits, reproductive success, and behavior of mountain lions in response to human activity. Determine an index of relative abundance and establish long-term population monitoring protocols.
Design an experimental approach to assessing management techniques for habituated and conditioned bears, including enforcement, public and employee education, hazing, and aversive conditioning.
Conduct an inventory of wildlife species in grasslands to detect current winter and summer utilization and correlations to grassland condition and composition.
Determine species distribution of bat species, habitat affinities, and abundance, especially in areas near human habitation. Specifically, (1) inspect the few known abandoned mines and natural caves for use by bats, (2) survey and evaluate highway structures (bridges and culverts) for bat use, (3) inventory selected park buildings for bat use in and adjacent to developed areas where human-bat conflicts are most likely, (4) conduct a preliminary inventory of bats in an array of natural habitats to aid in the development of habitat use models, and (5) offer guidance for the creation of a comprehensive park-wide survey method.
Determine distribution of forest carnivores. Investigate alternative detection methods including remote camera locations. Conduct hair trap surveys to determine minimum population information, correlation with track records, and genetic history.
Investigate the distribution, population numbers and status, movement patterns, and habitat use of lynx in and immediately adjacent to Glacier National Park using the National Lynx Detection Protocol, or some modification of it, and radio-telemetry. Remote tracking of radio-instrumented animals would address natality and mortality (reproductive success and survival), movement patterns, habitat use, and interactions with humans.
Determine snowshoe hare dynamics relative to forest carnivores. Determine the vegetative and browse characteristics associated with high snowshoe hare densities and assess predator distribution with respect to different snowshoe hare densities. Evaluate whether snowshoe hare numbers change in a way consistent with the 10-year cyclicity shown by hares in other parts of their range, because knowing whether hares cycle is critical for understanding population changes in their predators.
Identify grizzly bear transboundary movement patterns and study how these patterns are affected by human disturbance.
Study grizzly bear behavior and habitat use in response to human use of Glacier NP. Compare to bear behavior and activity patterns outside of the park.
Determine the social and nutritional roles of Apgar Mountain for grizzly and black bears. Investigate the effect of human activity on surrounding lands on bear activity patterns and use of this area.
Monitor wolf populations within the park and on immediately adjacent lands through use of radio-collars on selected individuals. Determine denning activity, reproductive success, and dispersal of pack members.
Determine regional habitat needs of park ungulate species. Ungulates move into and out of the park. Describe ungulate movements, habitats utilized, migratory routes, seasonal activity, and responses to habitat alterations.
Conduct field experiments on the behavioral responses of deer and mountain goats to aversive conditioning techniques, focusing on the techniques determined to be the most promising based on literature review and consultation. The goal is to identify an effective deterrent to habituated deer and mountain goats that can be used by field personnel to achieve a reasonable level of behavioral modification.
Investigate the occurrence and distribution of small mammals (deer mice, voles, lemmings, shrews, snowshoe hares, and red squirrels).
Provide critical information to park managers so that a healthy wolverine population can be maintained within Glacier National Park and restored in appropriate areas elsewhere. Study wolverine productivity, behavior, habitat needs, travel routes and the effects of human disturbance on wolverines.
Determine the status, trend, and distribution of porcupines in Glacier.
Investigate whether pika numbers are declining in Glacier as they are elsewhere in the West.
Determine the distribution, relative abundance, status and trend of red squirrels, and the feasibility of using red squirrel abundance to track the status of predatory species, especially the Northern Goshawk, and indirectly the Canada lynx.
Determine the distribution, status, and trends of the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) and two species of garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans and T. sirtalis).
The climate in Glacier National Park is one of long, cold, snowy winters and relatively short, warm summers. Here as throughout the world, the climate is changing. Average temperatures are increasing. Whether average annual precipitation will increase or decrease is not known. 83 glaciers have been mapped in the park and 34 of these are named. All 34 of the named glaciers are mountain glaciers that have receded dramatically since the mid-19th century (the end of the Little Ice Age). In addition to the glaciers receding, snowmelt and spring runoff often occur earlier in the spring. Vegetation in the alpine treeline (the transition zone between continuous, mature forest and alpine tundra) may have also been affected by climate change. In the past 80 years at Logan Pass, krummolz vegetation (prostrate, dwarf, shrublike trees) has grown more upright and become denser with more trees. Based on models of vegetation responses to variations in soil moisture and increasing temperature in a complex alpine landscape, scientists have also found evidence that vegetation zones are expanding upward in elevation. According to model predictions for the future, alpine tundra and conifer forests will be found at higher elevations than they are now and grasslands will be prevalent at lower elevations on the westside of the park.
Historically, Glacier has had relatively clean air and water. Most of Glacier’s streams and lakes are fed from rain, snow and glacier found in the park. Glacier is the headwaters for three major continental river systems: the Columbia, the Missouri/Mississippi, and the Saskatchewan/Nelson rivers. According to data from current monitoring programs, air and water quality are good. However, both are vulnerable to pollution from sources both within and outside of the park. The activities most likely to affect air and water quality in the park include people living and working in the park, vehicular traffic, development, prescribed fire, wildfire, and visitors staying in the park. Outside activities that could affect the air and water include potential coal and mineral mines, gas exploration, oil and coalbed methane wells, logging, residential development, fire, dirt roads, agricultural emissions and industries, even ones located far from Glacier’s boundaries (both regional and transpacific sources). Airborne pollution can come from great distances and be deposited in Glacier’s soil, lakes and rivers. Some of Glacier’s major rivers run along the boundary of the park and can be affected by activities located across from the park.
Quantify atmospheric deposition of toxic air contaminants to the park, including mercury, organics, and trace metals.
Determine the variation in inorganic and organic nitrogen deposition to sensitive ecosystems. Identify the atmospheric source regions for these chemical contaminants.
Estimate the air transport of pollutants using modeling to determine the seasonal roles of transboundary, transpacific, regional and local sources of air pollutants.
Research the role of wildfire and prescribed fire in atmospheric pollution, both from a regional haze perspective and with respect to deposition of nutrients and toxic organics.
Coordinate an assessment of air quality impacts of different energy development scenarios on both sides of the US/Canada border.
Develop a list of air quality related values (AQRV) in Glacier/Waterton and then determine the critical loads of deposition that will affect these AQRVs.
Plan and implement a long-term monitoring program for seasonal snow chemistry at high elevations in the park.
Following the WACAP assessment, determine the need for long-term monitoring of airborne contaminants in different environmental media.
Develop an air quality web cam that can be used by the public to determine the status of air quality and climate in the park.
Determine the importance of dust storms to air quality in Glacier. An analysis of particle size and composition can help determine source areas. This information would help determine what impact western Washington’s agricultural practices are having on the park.
Analyze long-term climate data in the local/regional setting to identify trends.
Establish long-term monitoring sites to measure projected climate change impacts related to elevation gradient movement of plant communities and hydrology.
Formalize a glacier margin and glacier volumetric monitoring program.
Develop a model to predict which glaciers are being impacted by climate change and are likely to include prehistoric archeological artifacts and sites.
Establish a long-term calibrated watershed in the park to estimate mass fluxes of water and chemicals over time.
Determine the effects of both wildfire and prescribed fire on hydrologic processes, chemical flux and sediment flux.
Measure and model the distribution of rain/snow across the landscape and then design a monitoring program to determine the change in precipitation amount and types over time.
Estimate the annual extent of snow covered area using remote sensing. Use repeat images to establish the direction and rate of change in this parameter.
Estimate the spatial patterns in soil moisture and design and implement a program to track changes in soil moisture characteristics.
Determine the timing and pattern of snowmelt runoff in selected watersheds within the park. Measure the changes in chemical concentrations in this snowmelt runoff as an indicator of changes in climate, soil processes, and deposition chemistry.
Monitor the runoff from the park’s glaciers, quantity, quality and pattern, to determine if stored pollutants are being mobilized.
Monitor the changes in water temperature and flow of streams draining glaciers in the park, to determine the effects of loss of glacier mass.
Design a park wide groundwater monitoring program (stage height) to determine changes due to development or climate change.
In areas of development, design and implement groundwater and surface water monitoring to detect increased sedimentation and chemical contamination from spills or leakage.
Use NAWQA (National Water Quality Assessment) protocols to determine if atmospheric transport of contaminants is affecting water resources in Glacier.
Assess mercury deposition and contamination in Glacier NP. Conduct surveys of lake water, lake sediment, and fish tissue to provide baseline data on current levels of mercury contamination. Use lake sediment and soil cores to make estimates of current mercury deposition rates to high elevation ecosystems.
Map surface water sensitivity to nitrogen deposition in wilderness areas in Glacier NP. Use GIS tools and geostatistical methods to develop maps of predicted nitrate concentrations in surface water and estimate ecosystem sensitivity to nitrogen deposition.
Test water quality to compare against baseline (1990) water quality data in order to detect environmental changes.
Document the effects of wildfire on water quality in streams draining areas in Glacier that burned in 2003, with emphasis on the effects of burn intensity. Potential post-burn effects on water quality include increased surface runoff and erosion, and leaching of nutrients, carbon, and metals from ash and soils.
Coordinate an assessment of water quality impacts from different energy development scenarios on both sides of the US/Canada border.
Ecosystem is a term that is used to describe an ecological unit that is composed of all of the organisms in an area and the environmental factors that influence those organisms. An ecosystem includes biological components, physical components, and natural processes. An ecosystem can be a large or a small area but the size is usually determined based on natural boundaries. Therefore, because it has a mixture of man-made, political and natural boundaries, Glacier National Park itself might not be described as an ecosystem. However, Glacier is part of the larger Crown of the Continent ecosystem. The Crown of the Continent ecosystem covers 44,000 square kilometers and is bounded by Elk River in British Columbia and Highwood River in Alberta on the north, Blackfoot River in Montana on the south, Salish Mountains on the west, and the western edge of the Great Plains on the east. Within Glacier, many different ecosystems can be described. Examples of ecosystems within Glacier National Park include the Upper McDonald Creek watershed, St. Mary Lake, and the cedar-hemlock forest (including Trail of the Cedars) near Avalanche Creek.
As part of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, Glacier is located in the midst of one of the largest intact wild ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains. Glacier is located between Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia to the north and a complex of designated Wilderness Areas (the Great Bear, Bob Marshall, and Scapegoat Wildernesses) in Montana to the south. Yet, within this primarily wild landscape, human actions have altered some natural processes. In Glacier National Park, some of the most notable actions include: the building and reconstruction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, stream channelization near developed areas, construction of dams and diversions, introductions of animals (especially fish) and plants (e.g., noxious weeds), fire suppression, and climate change. Also, even though Glacier is continuous with wild landscapes to the north and south, an assortment of manipulated lands occur to the east and west of Glacier resulting in a large natural region with nearby disturbed lands.
Determine impact of human waste on aquatic systems in the park. Quantify and analyze the impact of human waste on water chemistry, biota, and productivity of park aquatic ecosystems in the backcountry and frontcountry.
Analyze impacts of Rubideau Creek diversion. Rubideau Spring is the source of domestic water for park headquarters, Apgar, and West Glacier townsite. Analyze the impact of the diversion of Rubideau Creek (especially in July and August) on downstream aquatic biota and the riparian ecosystem.
Evaluate impacts of air pollution on aquatic biota. Investigate how these effects vary with respect to watershed area, elevation, snow and ice drainage. Do pollutant levels differ between glacial-fed lakes and non-glacier-fed lakes or with amount of precipitation? Does the effect on the biota differ among trophic levels?
Develop and maintain a GIS database for lands adjacent to Glacier. Lands adjacent to Glacier are increasingly subject to developments that affect the park’s resources. These include residential and commercial development, road construction, timber harvesting, and mineral development. Development adjacent to the park is occurring on all classifications of land: State and National Forest in Montana, Provincial Forest in British Columbia, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and increasingly, on private lands. Glacier NP currently has no systematic, up-to-date inventory of past, current, and potential development activity on lands near its border. Without such information, park staff cannot determine how to manage their lands from an ecosystem perspective.
Landscape change has occurred throughout northwestern Montana. Quantify past and current landscape conditions and describe how this change affects Glacier National Park.
Fire is the primary natural disturbance mechanism in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Fires occur every year in Glacier and did so naturally. Fires vary in severity and in spatial extent. In some years or places, large, stand-replacing fires occur. In other cases, mixed-severity or low intensity fires occur. Most fires create a mosaic pattern composed of burned areas of different fire severities interspersed with unburned portions. In 2003, Glacier had several large fires, each of which created a mosaic pattern. 13% of the park was burned. The length of the fire season and severity of the 2003 fires were record-setting events and yet within natural fire cycles. Because hundreds of organisms in the park have evolved with fire, fire is needed for many of these species to survive and reproduce. Morel mushrooms, Black-backed Woodpeckers, lodgepole and whitebark pines, and wood-boring beetles all benefit from fires and likely benefited from the fires of 2003.
While fires have occurred and continue to occur, wildland fire has primarily been suppressed in Glacier since the park’s inception in 1910. With few exceptions, all fires occurring between 1910 and 1991, whether large or small, were actively suppressed with varying degrees of success. Suppression on smaller fires was usually effective, but the effect on larger fires was minimal. Since 1991, prescribed natural fires have been allowed in some cases, but the full role of fire is still restricted. In addition to the suppression of fires starting within the park, many fires that start outside the park and would have entered the park have also been suppressed. Alteration of the fire cycle has altered the prevalence of insects and diseases and the composition and structure of vegetation communities and the animal communities that depend on them. The effect of fire suppression has been most significant in those areas where the historic fire interval was short (e.g., 15-25 years in grassland and ponderosa pine communities). Other forest types, such as cedar-hemlock and spruce-fir, have been less affected because the historic fire intervals are longer (75 to 150 years). Therefore, the natural mosaic and the species diversity normally created by fire are gradually changing, especially in some plant communities.
Other important natural disturbance mechanisms in Glacier are avalanches and floods. Human-induced disturbances include livestock trespass and noise levels created by activities in the park.
Monitor, assess, and report on long-term fire succession in a wide variety of park habitats. The previous decade of fire on the landscape has provided an unprecedented opportunity to chronicle fire succession.
Quantify fire behavior and effects through research, monitoring, and evaluation in order to manage prescribed fire and refine prescriptions.
Determine avian community response to fire in conifer forests. The unique habitats created by fire are host to a diverse avifauna that changes in composition and relative abundance as post-fire primary succession proceeds in the burned landscape. Document long-term changes in avian communities in burned forests. Examine relationships to different fire severities.
Estimate the effects of recent fires on cavity-nesting birds (especially Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers). Examine habitat selection and partitioning among the species, shifts in nesting densities over time, and correlations between food availability and nest density and success.
Refine the GIS layers for FARSITE fire behavior model. The FARSITE model has proven effective as a viable predictor of fire behavior, given that inputs to the model are well defined. Reliable and accurate FARSITE input parameters are needed for Glacier’s landscape.
Assess fire impacts on ungulate winter range. Determine and describe winter range characteristics for whitetail deer, elk, and moose including thermal features on variously aged fairly recent burns. Construct a model of the relationships between forest canopy, snow depth, thermal features, forage, and wintering densities of ungulates. Utilize the model to determine physical and biological changes caused by fire in winter habitats for the three cervid species. Determine the response of winter food supplies to fire.
Update fire history and stand age map. Recent fires since 1994 need to be mapped based on whether they were stand replacement or are now mixed aged stands. Stands without fire evidence should be aged to include their stand age in the database. A fire regime component should be added to the database for each stand. Fuels data collected in recent years should also be incorporated into the database.
Integrate fuels and vegetation mapping. A consistent interagency fuels map and inventory with common classifications and resolutions within ecosystems is needed for Glacier NP. Inventory and evaluate all fire fuels data. Carry out field and mapping efforts to complement already existing data. Use classes that cross walk between agencies. Produce fire fuel maps.
Update the park’s stand age map of forest habitats using burn severity data. Conduct multi-year post-fire sampling to refine the ability to project plant succession, or stand impacts, by burn severity classification. Use this information to assist in updating and maintaining fuels data.
Investigate the effects of fire on amphibian distribution and population health.
Develop frequency of event analysis and historical record for avalanches, comparing east and west side avalanche cycles.
Map avalanche catchment areas and runout zones according to national standards along US Highway 2 and the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Link an avalanche atlas (above) to this mapping, chronicling the historic record of avalanche activity.
Establish landscape-level disturbance agent and look at drivers; check against Pacific Decadal Oscillation climatic variations and see if it is tied to avalanche response; determine if snowfall level influences the frequency.
Determine the relative amount of woody debris vs. rock material in avalanches.
Assess plant succession in active avalanche paths through survey and photo monitoring.
Determine the ambient noise levels for selected locations throughout the park to be able to set measurable standards for the protection of natural quiet.
Examine the association between noise levels and visitor satisfaction in relation to expectations for different park zones.
Other human-induced disturbances
Conduct range inventories and analyze trespass routes for trespass livestock from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation onto the east side of the park.
Systematically record historical incidents of poaching of plants and animals on a geographic database with access points, current road status, and other significant field information. Document and analyze field reports, personal knowledge, scientific information, and field data to produce a comprehensive strategy for patrol, interdiction, and interagency cooperation. GPS ground verification will produce quality GIS maps for use by seasonal and permanent patrol and resource management personnel.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
People have probably lived in the area that is now called Glacier National Park for the last 10,000 years. Clovis people may have been the earliest inhabitants. Evidence of the presence of Clovis people has been found on the east side of the park. Many different groups of people have lived in this area during these 10,000 years. Prehistoric people hunted, fished, and gathered plants. Three of the primary, recent Native American groups associated with Glacier were the Kootenai, Salish, and Blackfeet tribes. The Kootenai and Salish lived west of the Continental Divide and the Blackfeet on the east side. Huge changes occurred to these Native Americans starting about 500 years ago. Diseases, horses, and firearms came to this area first. Then came explorers, fur traders, and missionaries. In the early 1800s, the earliest explorers to this general area were Peter Fidler, Meriwether Lewis, and David Thompson. During the 1800s, people of European descent settled into the valleys to the west of this area and on the plains to the east. Also during this time, the Native Americans were forced onto reservations where many of the tribe members still live today. The Flathead Indian Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, is located southwest of the park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, home to the Blackfeet tribe, is located just east of the park. There are many locations in Glacier that are spiritually important to these and other tribes. Of the 79 known vision quest sites in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, several are still used today. In 1891, the Great Northern Railway was completed over Marias Pass. More homesteaders moved into northwest Montana. Miners searched for copper and gold in the mountains in the area that is now Glacier.
In the late 1800s, visitors began coming to this area, facilities for tourists were created, and the aesthetic value of this area was recognized. In 1895, the area that would become the eastern half of the park was purchased from the Blackfeet in anticipation of productive mining activity. After the mining proved to be unproductive, this purchase paved the way for the creation of Glacier National Park. George Bird Grinnell, who had visited the Glacier area since 1885, persuaded the Forestry Commission to put this general area into a forest reserve in 1896. Soon after this, he fought for the creation of a park, which he called “the Crown of the Continent”. After failing in 1907 and 1908, a bill was finally passed by Congress in 1910 that established Glacier National Park. Other big events in the 1900s include: the construction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (completed in 1932 after 11 years of work), the designation of Glacier as part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (in 1932), and the naming of the park as a Biosphere Reserve (in 1976) and a World Heritage Site, jointly with Waterton Lakes National Park (in 1993).
History of homesteading within Glacier National Park, including land management practices, and the interaction of homesteaders with park management.
History of mining within the park, including an identification/evaluation of the park’s mining-associated resources. The history should identify areas within the park that were used for mining, the mining companies involved in activities within the park (such as the Cracker Mine and Bullhead Mine), and discuss the role of mining in the early exploration and development in the region before park establishment, including the circumstances preceding the acquisition of the “Ceded Strip” from the Blackfeet.
History of oil and gas exploration and development in the park. Similar to the mining history project described above, Glacier National Park is in need of a history of oil and gas exploration and development within the park, including the areas that were the subject of oil and gas exploration and development (Kintla Lake, Ford Creek, the current location of Lake Sherburne, Boulder Creek), the companies involved in those activities (Butte Oil Company, Cassidy-Swiftcurrent Oil Company, etc.), and the impact of such activities on the park including the construction of roads, such as the North Fork Road, which was built to accommodate oil development.
History of recreation and recreational development in the park, including a discussion of early park concession and private landowner operations, as well as the development of early facilities such as campgrounds, tent camps, and auto/cabin camps. An identification of the extant resources associated with this history would be an essential element of this study.
History of vacation experiences in Glacier National Park, and how those experiences have changed over time. For example, what was a typical vacation in Glacier National Park comprised of during the 1920s (1930s, 1940, etc.), and how does it compare to that of today?
History of the “buffalo soldiers” in Glacier National Park, particularly the Ahern expedition.
History of artist Charles M. Russell’s association with Glacier National Park.
History of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) activities within the park.
History of the early (19th century) exploration in Glacier National Park by private individuals, business interests, and the U.S. government.
Evaluation of Going-to-the-Sun Road’s landscape design and its influence on national road design.
History of Glacier National Park during World War II, including impacts on park management, operations, and visitation.
History of Glacier National Park’s backcountry and wilderness management, including a discussion of the evolution of Glacier’s backcountry campground and trail system.
History of Glacier’s trail system, including a chronology/history of construction and changes to the system over time due to the evolution of NPS management policies and visitor attitudes and expectations.
History of mountain climbing, including major climbers, climbs, and routes.
History of artistic “image-making” within Glacier National Park – including artists, photographers, and film-makers – who used Glacier National Park as their subject and/or setting.
Profiles of Glacier National Park superintendents, and their tenures within the park.
Popular history of Glacier National Park.
Historical overview of the coverage of Glacier National Park by the Hungry Horse News.
Assistance with editing and publishing a report on the “Red Buses” of Glacier National Park.
History of boat transportation in Glacier National Park, including commercial boat operations.
Oral history interviews with former and current employees, concessionaires, private landowners, and park neighbors. The park is always seeking to augment its collection of recorded oral history interviews and transcripts.
History of Glacier National Park natural resource management. This history includes a broad range of primary natural resource management topics that can also be individual research projects, including the following:
--History of predator management, including such topics as “bounties” on wildlife;
--History of bear and ungulate feeding in the park;
--History of vegetation management, including non-native plant introductions (e.g., timothy and Yellowstone stock at Many Glacier), noxious weed control, vista clearing, hazard tree removal, hazard fuel removal, blister rust management, insect and disease control, campground management, and restoration of native plants;
--History of grazing within the park;
--Construction of the Logan Pass boardwalk (case study);
--History of fisheries management;
--Non-native fish introduction and control;
--History of logging and its impacts (most, if not all, logging within the park was associated with the construction of park buildings and included the construction of a sawmill at Fish Creek); and
--History of the evolution of fire management policy in Glacier.
History of the work of George Wright, the first chief of the wildlife division of the National Park Service (and for whom the George Wright Society is named), in Glacier National Park.
History of the 1964 flood.
History of individual wildland fires within Glacier National Park, such as the 1889, 1910, and 1929 Halfmoon Fires, including the placement of these events within their contemporary political, social, and economic contexts.
History of scientific research in Glacier National Park: who, what, when, and where the specimens are located, and the effects of this research on the development of park resource management policies.
Investigate paleobotany and prehistoric fire regimes (e.g. bog core studies).
Synthesis of the numerous scientific reports that have been completed on the archeological surveys and discoveries within Glacier National Park, and what they tell us about the early inhabitants of what is now the park. The purpose of the synthesis is to present this information in a way that is useful to park interpreters and understandable by the general public.
Assessment of the national significance of Chief Mountain, and its possible evaluation as a National Historic Landmark.
Chief Mountain interpretive/management plan, as to the proper and respective use of Chief Mountain (in cooperation with the Blackfeet Tribe).
Expansion of some of the themes outlined in the Glacier National Park Ethnographic Study, including further study of the use of the area by all tribes for hunting, travel, fishing, burning and religious uses.
American Indian land management practices within what is now Glacier National Park, including use of fire and ethnobotany.
Project to assist with the identification of American Indians whose photographs are part of the Glacier National Park archives collection.
Glacier National Park is in need of several cultural landscape studies, all of which should include a landscape history, documentation of existing conditions, and an analysis and evaluation of significance.
Expansion of the existing National Historic Landmark nomination for the Great Northern Railway Buildings of Glacier National Park (Belton Chalet, Granite Park Chalet, Many Glacier Hotel, Sperry Chalet, and Two Medicine Store) to include all the chalet-associated resources, including dormitories, support buildings, etc.
History of architectural development within the park, including vernacular and architect-designed buildings.
History of private development in pre- and post-designated Glacier National Park, including homesteads, the Apgar and Altyn townsites, and residential homes.
History of vacation homes within the park, concentrating on the two subdivisions in which the properties are located: Glacier Park Villa Sites and Apgar Cottage Sites. The historic context should document the development of the subdivisions, including major stages of growth, significant personal associations, and political or legislative decisions affecting their growth, as well as the architectural development of the subdivisions, their architects and builders, the principal styles, time periods, and methods of construction, and the influence of the National Park Service, if any, to the development of the architectural styles.
Popular history of the construction, architecture and history of the chalets of Glacier National Park.
Library and curatorial collections
Condition survey of Glacier National Park collections, both a general overview and material specific surveys (paper, natural history specimens, etc.).
In 1910, Glacier National Park was set aside for two purposes: (1) as a “pleasure ground” for the enjoyment of the people of the United States and (2) to preserve nature in this area, especially fish and wildlife species. Park managers are concerned about potential conflicts between these two mandates. Because the park is managed to maintain the health of its natural resources in addition to offering recreational use for visitors, the impact of visitors on natural resources within the park is a primary concern. In general, park managers need to know more about the impacts of visitors in both the developed and proposed wilderness areas in the park. Because the park is managed in part to offer recreational experiences, park staff also need to know more about the desires and needs of the visitors and their experiences in the park.
Currently, approximately 2 million visitors come to the park each year. Since 1980, annual visitation to the park has increased more than 50%. Concomitantly, use of overnight concession lodging, developed campgrounds, and backcountry camping have increased. During the same time period, while visitor use of services has increased, interpretive programming, protection services, and campground availability have decreased. If these trends continue, potential decreases in visitor satisfaction and resource protection may occur.
Impacts of visitors on park resources
How does human use threaten ecosystem integrity? At what scale should this question be addressed?
What are the effects of recreational use on the natural resources of the park, specifically on hydrologic processes; nutrient cycling; plant reproduction, dispersal, and pollination; invertebrate composition; and wildlife species?
Develop carrying capacity indicators and standards. Determine biological and social indicators which can serve as signals of negative impacts on park resources. Set standards that define acceptable limits of change for particular management zones. Develop a monitoring protocol and management action plan for incidences when resource degradation exceeds set standards. For example, develop protocols to assess visitor impacts on plants and soils and create standards to determine when impacts are no longer acceptable. How can threats to park resources be minimized or reduced?
Investigate backcountry use. Determine use estimates for all backcountry trails and create a reliable baseline of park-wide trail use.
Assess wildlife use of developed and boundary areas. Note occurrence, distribution, range of natural variation, and trend of wildlife using these areas to help managers figure out how to minimize impacts from existing and proposed human activities, such as road construction, building or parking lot modification, visitor use patterns, livestock grazing on the boundary, or timber harvest plans outside the park and near the boundary.
Conduct night sky inventories and compile threat analysis, including internal lighting.
Analyze movements and habitat use patterns of Canada Lynx in Glacier NP and their response to recreational activity. Use GPS-based satellite collars to provide both fine scale (response to recreation) and coarse scale (broad movements) information regarding lynx movements and habitat use. Provide data regarding lynx movements relative to human recreation (trails, back-country campgrounds, developed areas) and other habitat features.
Establish baseline survey of priority rare plant populations and communities. Focus on mapping rare species distributions and sensitive communities that have known human-induced threats placed on them. Characterize sensitive habitats in the park and actual and potential impacts by humans on these populations and communities.
Delineate 100-year floodplains at seven locations (Apgar, Lake McDonald, Rising Sun, Swiftcurrent, Many Glacier, Goat Haunt and Two Medicine) where existing facilities need to be modified. Changes and improvements are needed at facilities that are located adjacent to streams or lakes.
Is social trail density or width or level of use more important for assessing the impacts on wildlife populations?
Determine detection methods and assess effects of human waste on park ecosystems. Develop effective methods to dispose of human waste.
Visitor perceptions, expectations, knowledge and behavior
Elucidate the impacts that climate change may have on visitor use and perception in Glacier NP.
Identify the impact of the increased security on the US-Canadian border (e.g., increased inspections on the United States side) on public perception of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Elucidate the effectiveness of communication, interpretation, and education efforts by park staff, including effectiveness of safety, appreciation, and resource protection messages and information and the potential for use of local media. Determine what visitors feel is most important for them to know upon entering the park, what their initial perceptions of informational messages are, and how those messages affect their visit.
Identify the park’s constituency (i.e., socio-demographics of visitors). Who are the visitors? Where do they come from? Where do they go in the park? What do they do and how long do they stay?
Investigate visitors’ expectations and motivations. Why do people come to Glacier NP? What are they seeking?
Who visits wilderness areas and what are their expectations? Are there differences between those who come on commercial trips and those who come independently?
What are the proportion of day-users to overnight users within different areas of the park? How do use patterns and visitor impacts differ between the two groups?
Study visitor satisfaction and dissatisfaction. What “things” are important in determining whether visitors are satisfied? What are sources of dissatisfaction?
Determine visitor preferences and priorities for services, activities, and facilities provided by park staff and concessions, including preferences for interpretive services and activities.
Investigate visitor perceptions, knowledge, preparedness, and acceptance of the risks inherent in visiting Glacier. How much do they know before they come here? How well do we explain the risks? How does knowledge of certain risks (e.g., bears) affect visitors’ use of the park?
Investigate visitor knowledge of proper behavior regarding pre-contact, contact, and attack situations involving bears, including proper backcountry camping practices.
Determine visitor attitudes toward wildlife and wildlife management, and how their park visit affects those attitudes.
Study the level of visitor knowledge about Glacier NP prior to their visit. Do visitors have an accurate perception of what Glacier NP is before coming here? How do inaccurate perceptions and expectations affect their visit here? How can we get accurate information about Glacier to these people before their visit?
What are visitor expectations about backcountry experiences, including facilities (trails, campsites, signing), expectations for solitude, and amount of regulation? How do these expectations affect their satisfaction with their backcountry experience?
Investigate visitor perceptions of park management, policies, and actions, such as closures, access restrictions, acceptance of regulation, level of facilities and concessions, bear management, fire management, and support for wolf recovery.
Determine use of visitor centers and what visitors want and need from visitor centers. Learn which visitors attend naturalist-led activities and which don’t and why.
Study visitor perceptions of the level of service (quantity and quality) that Glacier currently provides in relation to the past, particularly with regard to increased use of VIPs.
Contrast visitor and employee perceptions of what Glacier NP should be with its mandated purpose as a first step in developing an internal identity and a common context in which to make decisions.
Develop a methodology for gathering public input on compliance and planning documents and help to elucidate how to use that public input.
Investigate visitor perceptions of and priorities for different park values (e.g., recreation values vs. preservation values).
Determine visitors’ personal environmental values, and their understanding of ecological processes. Evaluate how important it is to visitors that some areas of Glacier NP remain wild, and that grizzlies and wolves are present. How important is it to visitors to see bears in the wild?
Determine visitors’ views on the adequateness of park facilities, types of facilities visitors feel are needed, and visitor acceptance of inconveniences to preserve a more primitive experience.
Determine visitor understanding of what a National Park is, and why it has the regulations it has.
Examine visitor/employee interaction process: contacts (type, frequency, and reasons), visitor perceptions of NPS rangers, and adequacy of feedback from visitors to park. Specifically, how can we increase visitor participation in management activities, such as reporting bear sightings?
Identify significant interest groups and issues important in decision-making.
Determine visitor perceptions of resource impacts and their causes. To what extent do visitors notice resource impacts? Do they realize that some of their actions may cause resource damage?
Compare recommended vs. reported vs. actual behavior by visitors and determine how to improve compliance.