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Crown Continent of


the university of montana


Spring 2009


The University of Montana Crown of the Continent initiative

Crown of the Continent

George M. Dennison President Royce C. Engstrom Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs James P. Foley Executive Vice President Dan Dwyer Vice President for Research & Development Christopher Comer Dean, College of Arts and Sciences THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA CROWN OF THE CONTINENT INITIATIVE Department of Geography – Old Journalism Building The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812

Faculty and students from many University of Montana departments contribute to the Crown of the Continent Initiative’s overall efforts, including this publication. Rick Graetz – Initiative CoDirector, Geography faculty Jerry Fetz – Initiative CoDirector, Professor and Dean Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences Keith Graham – Art Director, School of Journalism faculty Ashley Zuelke – Designer, Journalism Student Lindsey Brandt – Copy Editor, Graduate Student in German Joe Veltkamp – Web Designer, Economics and Media Arts Student, Spectral Fusion Susie Graetz – Editorial Consultant, International Programs Any use or reproduction of this work requires permission of the directors of the Crown of the Continent Initiative. Published by The University of Montana Press.

Contents Issue 1 — Spring 2009

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I Am of the Rocky Mountain Front A.B. Guthrie Jr.


Crown of the Continent: A Physical Geography and Geographic History Rick and Susie Graetz Climate Change: A Photographic Investigation Daniel Fagre


1907 on the Rocky Mountain Front: An Early Day Ranger’s Story Clyde Fickes The Flathead Lake Biological Station Jack Stanford

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A Winter Morning on the Rocky Mountain Front Rick and Susie Graetz


The Crown Today: A Scenic Profile


Conservation & Cooperation: A Transboundary course Len Broberg

©2 TheCrown University of Montana of the Continent


Cover photo by Susie Graetz

The Crown of Yesterday: Historic Photos Land of Extremes: Weather on the Crown David Bernhardt

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Teaching the Crown in Polebridge, Mont. Sarah Halvorson


Notes from our Partners and affiliates


Contact us at:



n 1901 when George Bird Grinnell coined the phrase “The Crown of the Continent,” little did he know that those lofty words, employed to gather support for his efforts to create Glacier National Park, would some day come to represent a far greater expanse of soaring alpine country in two nations. Glacier National Park, with its approximately one million acres, is now, almost one hundred years after its official establishment, just one of several jewels in this very large, pristine, trans-boundary ecosystem that encompasses nearly 13 million acres. Today’s Crown of the Continent, to which this E-Magazine and the new UM initiative bearing that name are dedicated, is a mesmerizing, outrageously beautiful, diverse, and both scientifically and historically important piece of geography that extends some 250 miles from north to south along the Continental Divide. It holds legendary landscapes, including those within the boundaries of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, as well as perhaps the grandest wilderness country of all –“The Bob,” that is, the contiguous Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wilderness Areas, and other grand landscapes on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. In the realm of time and space—it is difficult to separate history and geography—this special place in the Rocky Mountains of Northern Montana and the southern parts of both British Columbia and Alberta can boast of a relatively recent, perhaps, but excitingly colorful past. Before the Europeans came in search of fur and then gold and other natural resources, this swath of land was part homeland and part transit territory for numerous indigenous peoples north and south, east and west. They are still a part of this place, and it is certainly still a part of who they are. When the Europeans (and after the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Americans) came to this spectacular country in search of wealth, space, and natural resources, they settled sparsely and mostly in a few valleys and along the periphery of what we have come to regard as this Crown of the Continent. Consequently, much of this place, this “ecosystem,” is still intact and relatively undisturbed; much of it is legally protected. This E-Magazine, of which this is but the first issue (we intend to publish at least two per year), is produced to help shed light on and bring information, stories, and photos from and about this incredible Crown. The University’s Crown Initiative is interested in the various kinds of research being carried out here by scientists and scholars of all stripes from around the world; in the many educational activities and opportunities that are available through all kinds of official institutions as well as volunteer citizen groups; and

in working collaboratively with its large and rapidly growing number of partners throughout the region who share these interests and want to participate in making information about the Crown available to the general public in a variety of accessible forms. One of those forms, with contributions from a wide range of people and organizations, is this E-Magazine. We intend to bring to you—researchers and scholars who study this place; officials who manage and make policy that affects this place and everyone and everything related to it; and the general public from near and far that is rightly fascinated by and concerned about its history and health—a wide range of articles, essays, scientific findings, stories, anecdotes, lots of visual representations, bibliographies, and tips on where to find even more information about all aspects of this place: our (collectively) Crown of the Continent. It is also our plan to bring this E-Magazine, and other newsletter-type publications, to you free of charge, although as is the lot of most non-profit organizations, we certainly won’t reject any donations, large and small, that you might consider sending our way to support this effort and other activities of the University of Montana’s Crown Initiative as well as related activities of our collaborating partners. You may send such donations to the University of Montana Foundation, Brantley Hall, Missoula, Montana, 59812, USA, with a notation of “Crown of the Continent Initiative” on your checks. We are all very excited about this initiative and the collaborations already started with our partners. Our recent symposium on the Crown, held in Kalispell in February, was a great success, and our numerous meetings and conversations with scientists, scholars, students, public officials, and representatives of our partner organizations have made us here at UM feel extremely optimistic about the future of this initiative. You are invited to read more about current activities as well as plans for the next months in the closing pages of this issue. As you do so, however, please keep in mind that this is all a “work-in-progress,” and we would very much like to hear your thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, concerns, and ideas. You may contact us at our e-mail address: Thanks for your interest and support, and if you know of other individuals or groups you think would like to receive this E-Magazine and hear more about the Crown Initiative, please let us know that as well.

Rick Graetz and Jerry Fetz, Co-Directors

The University of Montana Crown of the Continent Initiative Department of Geography, The University of Montana

—We would be pleased to have your assistance —

Donations large and small—$5, $10, $25 or more—are needed as we grow our efforts to bring you “The Crown” in a variety of ways and formats: Symposia, such as the one we recently held in Kalispell, book projects, newsletters, regular issues of this E-Magazine, etc. Your contributions will also enable us to get students out “into the field” in Crown areas, offer courses for them and the general public, support student research projects, and provide you and other interested parties with accessible and high-quality information about our wonderful and fascinating Crown. Donations are tax-deductible and should be sent to: The University of Montana Foundation, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807 Please make checks payable to the UM Foundation with a notation to be directed to the “Crown of the Continent initiative.” You also may donate online at Select your desired gift amount, designate it to the College of Arts & Sciences and note that your gift should go to the “Crown of the Continent Initiative” on the “Additional Comments/Instructions Regarding Your Gift” page. Thank you. Spring 2009 3

President’s message

President George Dennison and Provost Royce Engstrom of The University of Montana ride a trail above the Blackfoot Valley and the southern perimeter of the The Crown of the Continent.


his electronic magazine will afford to participants in this very special project, and those interested, a window into the ongoing developments. As promised by those who have pushed us to the stage, we do not intend to have a bureaucratic structure or erect barriers curtailing participation.   In the information age with the advent of the Internet, it seems entirely appropriate to use this vehicle to include as many participants and observers as possible. But why such a project?  Why the name? Those familiar with the region of the country recognize immediately the dependence of the remainder of North America on what happens here.  At the center stands Triple Divide Peak, and from that center the waters run west, east, north, and ultimately south.  Failure to understand and protect this valuable ecological landscape will result in devastating consequences down stream.  Hopefully we have learned from what has occurred elsewhere in the

world, notably in China, when we fail to act as good stewards. The oncoming effects of climate change also illustrate vividly – in the Crown of the Continent as elsewhere – why we must act now. Good management requires good science and a full understanding of the interrelationships that apply.  As has become readily apparent, the challenges do not lend themselves to solutions derived solely from good science.   Those most versed in the causes and consequences of climate change remind us that the work we must do requires the engagement of humanists, social scientists, policy experts, journalists, public servants, and, most importantly, average citizens.   This project and this magazine aims to bring together all who will contribute toward developing solutions to the challenges before us that demand the engagement of citizen and expert alike for success.  We welcome you to this critical work.  

George M. Dennison, President The University of Montana 44

Crown ofof thethe Continent Crown Continent

I am a resident, you almost might say a product of the Rocky Mountain Front, “the front,” as we have come to call it. It is a strip of land just east of the Continental Divide and includes an edge of the plains, the higher bench lands, the foothills and then the great jagged wall of the mountains. At the age of 89, living on the front, I have come to feel a part of what has gone before, kin to dinosaur and buffalo and departed Indians that lived here. When I step out of doors and hear a small crunch underfoot I sometimes suspect I may be treading on the dusted bones of duckbill or bison or red man killed in the hunt. I look to the north and the south, where the foothills rise, east to the great jagged roll of the high plains and west to mountains and my vision site of Ear Mountain and good medicine lies all around.

A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

from Montana: A Photographic Celebration,Vol. 3

A.B.“Bud” Guthrie, Jr. was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Of his many books and screenplays, he is perhaps best known for his book The Big Sky. Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz.

Spring 2009


“... the Blackfeet referred to the compilation of jagged, soaring edifices as the ‘Backbone of theWorld’...”


Crown of the Continent


Continent of the

Rick and Susie Graetz

Story and Photos by

Spring 2009



Much earlier in time, control of the hunting lands of what would one day become Montana east of the mountains

rotated through various tribes. But it was the acquisition first of horses, and then of guns, that allowed the Blackfeet Nation to rule the prairie the bison roamed, especially within the area in the shadow of today’s Rocky Mountain Front. With the arrival of white Europeans, the Blackfeet were pushed into the neighborhood they occupy today—the Blackfeet Reservation—hard up against the eastern flanks of Glacier Nation Park. Corralled in a distinctly smaller landscape, the natives ventured into the high country to hunt, fish and establish vision-quest sites. In awe of what they saw, the Blackfeet referred to the compilation of jagged, soaring edifices as the “Backbone of the World.” Searching for adventure, James Willard Schultz, an educated easterner and accomplished author, migrated to Montana’s high plains in 1876 and eventually came to live with the Blackfeet Indians. He took a wife from the Piegan band of the Blackfeet and, despite being a white man, Schultz melded in so well that the Piegan name “Apikuni,” meaning “Far-off White Robe,” was bestowed upon him. Time spent hunting and exploring the mountainous terrain that rose abruptly west of the Indians’ encampments inspired him to write about


Crown of the Continent

Mount Reynolds – Logan Pass Area, Glacier National Park

his adventures and the beauty he witnessed, making him perhaps the first person to chronicle the magnificence of these western lands. In 1885, Schultz sent an article titled “To the Chief Mountain” to Forest and Stream Magazine, the forerunner to the current Field & Stream. The editor at the time was George Bird Grinnell, a Yale graduate educated in wildlife and forestry whom The New York Times referred to as the “father of the modern conservation movement” at the time of his death in 1938. Grinnell had spent many

years studying the natural history of the nation’s western regions and understood well the Native Americans and animals of the Northern Great Plains. Impressed with what Schultz penned, Grinnell boarded a train to Helena and then rode the mail stagecoach to Fort Benton, where he met the author. From there, the two journeyed by wagon to the Blackfeet villages. Grinnell’s mission was to see the topography Schultz had vividly described. Initially, they camped somewhere in the vicinity of today’s Spring 2009


Bison herds make a comeback on Glacier National Park’s east slope – Blackfeet Reservation.

Triple Divide Mountain and then trekked to the now highly photographed St. Mary Lake, which Grinnell called “Walled in Lakes.” From there, the duo traveled into the Swiftcurrent region and climbed to a glacier just below Mt. Gould and the Continental Divide; the glacier now bears Grinnell’s name. This naturalist was so enchanted with the entire landscape that he returned again and again for the next 41 years. During the early 1900s, Grinnell and other notable folks began seriously lobbying for protection of the Crown through national park status. Their efforts were bolstered and prompted by 10

Crown of the Continent

previous discussions to preserve this collection of alpine majesty. As far back as 1883, John Van Orsdale, an army officer on duty in the Browning area and the Blackfeet Reservation, suggested the establishment of a national park for the region of today’s Glacier National Park. In 1901, Grinnell heightened the campaign to enlighten the American public about the great natural features that the area possessed; he christened the land “The Crown of the Continent.” Finally, in 1907, legislation was introduced. Residents of Kalispell vehemently opposed the action, fearing the loss of logging and hunting lands and believing there was nothing up there

that folks would want to see. It took three attempts before a bill finally passed, and, in May of 1910, President Howard Taft signed a decree creating Glacier National Park. Sometime in 1895, land contiguous to Glacier just across the Canadian border was reserved for Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Now, an even greater collection of vast mountains sculptured by ice, water and wind was in public ownership. The area received lofty recognition in 1932 when the two parks were joined together as an International Peace Park. Today, the original area of Grinnell’s “Crown” and the Blackfeet’s “Backbone of the World” has been expanded to include a large and vastly important ecosystem that extends well beyond the confines of Glacier National Park. An estimated 13,000,000 acres make up this two-nation environment. Following the crest of the Rocky Mountains, the Continental Divide is the defining landmark of the Crown. A precise strand, it gives order to every drop of moisture that reaches it. All waters descending on the west slopes find their way to the Pacific Ocean. Snowmelt or rainfall on the east side of the Divide works its way through the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to the Atlantic. If you are traveling directly north to south, the top tier of the Crown of the Continent commences in the headwater terrain of the Elk River and Mt. Jaffe on the Continental Divide, north of Sparwood, British Columbia and Crowsnest Pass. The pass allows Canada’s Hwy 3 to cross the

Rockies and the Continental Divide between two Crown communities—Fernie, British Columbia to the west and Pincher Creek, Alberta to the east. Descending southward from Crowsnest Pass, the Continental Divide follows the apex of Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, busting out into Montana’s Glacier National Park and then on through the Bob Marshall Wilderness country to Rogers Pass. For the uninitiated, “The Bob” consists of the contiguous Great Bear, Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas as well as de facto wildlands that surround the federally designated wilderness. Gathered together, this landscape occupies about 2.5 million acres. When delineating the exterior boundaries of the Crown, we begin with the eastern perimeter, where the rolling, wave-like prairie lands of Alberta and Montana surge toward a collision with the reefs, walls and peaks of the Canadian and American Rocky Mountain Front. The southern frontier follows Montana Hwy 200 from Bowman’s Corner—the crossing of Hwy 287 and Hwy 200—over Rogers Pass, the Continental Divide and on through the Blackfoot River Valley. At the junction where the Blackfoot River meets the Clearwater River flowing south out of the Swan Valley, the border makes a sharp right-hand turn and begins moving north with the Clearwater. It continues westward along the southern edge of the fast-rising Mission Mountains and the Jocko Divide into the Flathead Reservation lands.

Today, the original area of Grinnell’s ‘Crown’ …has been expanded to include an important ecosystem that extends well beyond the confines of Glacier. An estimated 13 million acres make up this two-nation ecosystem.

Spring 2009


Mount Harding, center, and to the right McDonald Peak, the Mission Mountains, near Ronan.

From here, the western limit takes in the Mission Valley and Flathead Lake and extends north to the west slopes of the Whitefish Range and the Tobacco Valley. North of Eureka, Montana, Canada takes over again and ushers the western rim through the Kootenay (Kootenai in Montana) River Valley and then northward to the area of the Columbia Lake and Canal Flats in British Columbia. This glorious gathering of trans-boundary topographic pieces represents a microcosm of what the American and Canadian west once was. Glacier-carved peaks—some of their north faces still embedded with remnant glaciers—, vast forests rising to the upper reaches of mountains, wandering river valleys, steep canyons, gushing creeks, flowered meadows and a wild population that represents nearly all of the major and minor critters of the Rockies together form what many researchers consider to be the largest intact and most pristine ecosystem in North America. In the approximately 200-mile stretch as the bald eagle flies between the Crowsnest and Rog12

Crown of the Continent

ers passes, only one year-round road—Marias Pass, route of US Hwy 2—traverses the geography of the Crown. In Glacier National Park, the Going-To-The-Sun Road climbs over the Divide through Logan Pass; however, with the exception of the summer months, heavy snowfall, enormous drifts and avalanches seal this route for up to nine months of the year. Geologically, much of the Crown’s topography, especially east of the Divide, is a result of tremendous chaos within the earth’s crust nearly 75 million years ago. Slabs, considerably more than a mile thick, of pre-Cambrian limestone,

sandstone, mudstone and shale—about 1.5 billion years old and thus some of the oldest rocks on the planet—were thrust skyward to the east, which caused them to ride over much younger rocks and created a series of wave formations that are termed “overthrust” in geo-speak. South of Glacier Park to Rogers Pass, the overthrust formations reveal themselves in a series of conspicuous north/south oriented cliffs and ridges; they are steep faced on the east and slope in a more gentle fashion to the west. Caves and rough rock surfaces—a result of Madison and Meagher pale gray limestone (calcium carbon-

ate, CaCO3), a mineral form of calcite that is extremely susceptible to erosion from the acidity of rainwater and snowmelt—are common to this section of the Rocky Mountain Front and well into the Bob Marshall. Above Marias Pass, the Glacier and Waterton Lakes area is a single slab of uplifted rock. After the configuration moved into place, glaciation and rivers began the arduous task of sculpting cirques and valleys. It is interesting to note that the rocks in the two national parks are far more richly hued than their relatives in the Bob Marshall and the Rocky Mountain Front to the south. Spring 2009


Here, the streams and creeks are filled with the exceedingly hard, red and green mudstone and the burgundy and teal argillite that give the water its unique, colorful appearance. Glaciers acted out their magic not only in Glacier and Waterton, but they also designed nearly every other piece of the Crown’s geographic puzzle. Continental ice sheets buffed the prairie hills and valleys, leaving behind glacial till that enriched the soils of the area. In the Kootenay and Flathead valleys, where the ice was once upward of 3,000 feet thick, numerous advances of ice scraped out the bottomlands that are now known geographically as the Rocky Mountain Trench. A yawning depression left behind by an enormous ice mass that lingered long after the main level of glacial ice melted became home to Flathead Lake. The glaciers that moved south about 15,000 years ago overran the northern two-thirds of the Mission Mountains, gouging deep scratches— “striations” in geo-speak—in the bedrock. Previous ice ages brought rivers of ice to the far end of the Mission Valley and were partly responsible for the many pothole lakes that dot the area. Historically, the land of the Crown reaches well back in time. Much of what played out is lost in the mists of surmise, but through legends and stories that have been passed on, it is possible to grasp a bit of a fascinating story. Along its eastern flank, where the northern plains abruptly end, the Great North Trail, a route once followed by ancient peoples after they crossed the Bering Sea land bridge from Asia, is still visible in places; we can only imagine how old it is and who passed by. In more recent times, countless thousands of bison drifting below and along the Crown’s mountain wall were hunted by the great indig14

Crown of the Continent

Right: Camas was a valuable plant to the Native Americans. Opposite: Lake McDonald in late summer, Glacier National Park.

enous nations. Jealousy and g u ard i ans h ip over the hunting grounds forced much inter-tribal warfare within the Crown. Tribes from west of the Continental Divide—the Kootenai, Salish, Pend’Oreille, Nez Perce, Shoshone and others—threaded their way through Glacier, the Bob Marshall country and the Blackfoot Valley to hunt the big beasts of the prairie; they called the journey “Going-to-Buffalo” and were often attacked by the more powerful Blackfeet. Unlike today’s backpacking trails, which follow river bottoms and switchback up passes, natives crossing the Continental Divide through the Bob Marshall and Glacier followed the natural terrain. Signs of their travels are found high above the canyons and valleys, as this is where game was found. It was only on the sunrise edges of the mountains that they eventually descended from passes to reach the lower country to the east. In time, white trappers searching for beaver followed the Indians into the mountainous wilderness, but they did their camping in the bottomlands.

Chronicles of “the Bob” are fascinating and colorful. Part of its lore is a “sense of place” that a hiker once said reminded him of the “hush of a cathedral.” Moving through these wildlands, one is often treading not only on old trails that the first travelers marked, but also on those blazed by mountain men and early-day forest rangers.

When the legendary conservationist and Forest Service leader Bob Marshall passed on in November of 1939, a move was made to create a wilderness in his honor. Three primitive areas established by the Forest Service in the 1930s—the Big River (the Middle Fork of the Flathead), the Sun River, and the South Fork (of the Flathead)—were combined in August of 1940, and with this, the Bob Marshall Wilderness came into being. In more recent years, the Scapegoat Wilderness and the Great Bear Wilderness were added to the complex. We could continue describing all of the distinct regions of this magnificent corner of North America, the “Crown of the Continent,” but let it suffice that other pieces of splendid Crown landscapes— the Kootenay country, the Elk River, the Rocky Mountain Front, the Blackfoot Valley, the Swan Range and Valley, the Mission Mountains, Flathead Lake, the North Fork of the Flathead and the Mountains of Glacier and Waterton, to name a few—are gems in the Crown that have their own unique tales and, in due time, will gain center stage. Future issues of The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent Magazine will explore in depth each piece of this great bit of Canadian and American geography! Spring 2009



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Crown of of the the Continent Continent Crown


A photographic investigation


by Daniel Fagre



cross the globe, mountains have had more than their share of the climate changes that have been so evident in the last several decades. Major glaciers have entirely disappeared from the Andes, the Himalayas have lost a third of their snow, and 99% of the glaciers in Alaska are retreating. Particularly at upper elevations, average annual temperatures in mountains have increased between two and three times the global average. At the same time that there has been recognition that mountains are sensitive to climate change, the dependence of humans on mountain resources, especially water, has become ever clearer. Mountains provide 50% of the water humans use globally and 85% of the water that the relatively arid western United States depends on. Thus, how mountain ecosystems continue to respond to climate change will have direct impacts on human populations. In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Global Change Research Act, directing federal agencies to examine how climate change potentially could affect natural resources of the nation. The National Park System was chosen to be a key player in the U.S. Global Change Research Program because national parks tend to be relatively pristine, making it easier to detect early or subtle changes attributable to climate change. The underlying dynamics of ecosystems also can be investigated more effectively with the nearly intact ecosystems found in many national parks. Against this backdrop, the U.S. Geological Survey has been monitoring and investigating the changes in mountain ecosystems related to ongoing climate change since 1991. In the Crown of the Continent, these efforts have primarily focused on Glacier National Park and have involved numerous collaborators from other federal agencies and universities. Spring 2009 2009 Spring

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climate records and historic photographs of glacier recession and thinning 2 km of ice covered Glacier Park Within 40 years, overall glacier coverage



Less than

Mountain ecosystems are very complex because of the strong gradients caused by elevation and the spatial variability caused by mountain topography. As every mountain hiker knows, the climate differs greatly as you ascend, go over a pass, or go around a slope to a different aspect. Consequently, plant and animal distributions change quickly over short distances, and there are interactions with the changing climate that complicate the picture. Determining which responses are attributable to a changing climate rather than the inherently dynamic qualities of mountain ecosystems is a daunting challenge. Monitoring small, alpine glaciers provides an elegant solution to this problem. These glaciers, distributed throughout Glacier National Park, are influenced almost completely by temperature and precipitation. When it is colder and snowier, they accumulate more snow, which eventually forms ice, and the glacier grows. When it is warmer and drier, less snow accumulates and the glaciers shrink. Because it takes several years for the glaciers to reflect changes, one or two exceptionally warm or cold years are averaged out, and the size of the glacier reflects what is happening on the scale of decades. Therefore, changes in the size of glaciers indicate longer-term trends in climate. The history and potential future of glaciers in Glacier National Park clearly suggest that major mountain ecosystem changes are a reality. Glaciers were present within current park boundaries as early as 18 18

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km 2 is

7,000 years ago but may have survived an earlier warm period as well, which would make them much older. Tracking past climatic changes over thousands of years, these relatively small glaciers varied in size through time but gradually grew and reached their largest sizes around 1850. Physical evidence left by the glaciers (e.g., end moraines) indicates that there were an estimated 150 glaciers and large perennial snow/ice fields. Tree-ring based climate records and historic photographs indicate the initiation of glacier recession and thinning between 1860 and 1880. Between 1917 and 1941, the coupling of hot, dry summers with substantial decreases in winter snowpack (~30% of normal) produced dramatic recession rates as high as 100 meters per year. These periodic droughts have occurred on top of a long-term trend of a 1.6 °C increase in annual temperature since 1900. Many smaller glaciers disappeared during this period. Based on 1966 aerial photographs, the first comprehensive map of the region’s glaciers was published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1968. Only 37 glaciers were named, out of a total of 84 perennial snow-and-ice bodies that survived from earlier in the century. It’s likely that at least some of the other 47 snow-and-ice bodies may have qualified as glaciers. For instance, Glacier National Park documents from the 1970s list “about 50” glaciers. In a 2002 publication, Carl Key, Richard Menicke and I estimated that 99 km2 of ice covered Glacier Park in 1850 but only 26 km2 remained by 1968.

photographs indicate the initiation thinning between 1860 and 1880. in 1850. by 1968, km2 remained. coverage was reduced



In late September 1998, aerial photographs were acquired of all GNP glaciers. The glacier area measurements from these photographs were made by Michele Manly and were the first for all glaciers since 1966. The overall glacier coverage for Glacier Park was reduced to 17 km2. Using criteria of a 0.1 km2 minimum area, and/or visual evidence of crevasses in the ice surface indicative of downslope movement, only 27 glaciers existed of the original 150. Other former glaciers appeared to have shrunk to the point of being miniscule and stagnant ice masses. Between 1993 and 1998, glaciers ranging in size from 0.15–1.72 km2 became 8–50% smaller. The relative rate of shrinkage was greatest for the smaller glaciers. Red Eagle Glacier, for example, was reduced to half its size between 1993 and 1998 and no longer meets the 0.1 km2 criterion for being considered a glacier. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, a survey of the glacier margin was completed for Grinnell Glacier in 2001 and showed a loss of 0.17 km2, or 19% reduced area, from 1993 to 2001. The margin survey of Grinnell was repeated in 2004 and a further loss of 0.4 km2, or 5.6% reduced area, had occurred in three years. An additional 9% reduction occurred by 2006. Grinnell Glacier will be measured again in 2009 and will definitely be smaller yet again. We’ve witnessed several places where ice has collapsed into the lake, leaving icebergs that almost cover Upper Grinnell Lake. Many watersheds of Glacier Park no longer con-




tain glaciers, and glacial coverage in any of the remaining watersheds does not exceed 3%. Furthermore, glaciers have thinned by hundreds of meters and, like Grinnell Glacier, may have less than 10% of the ice volume that existed when George Bird Grinnell first explored GNP in 1887. Park area covered by ice and permanent snow was reduced from 99 km2 in 1850 to less than 16 km2 by 2005, and there are only 25 glaciers that meet our size and other criteria. New aerial photography is scheduled to be acquired in 2009, and a new estimate of the remaining ice and permanent snow areas will be made next winter. Field measurements of other glaciers have been completed in the last few years, including Swiftcurrent, Chaney and Boulder, and these show that the loss of glaciers continues. Sperry Glacier—a glacier potentially more reflective of climatic change because it lacks a glacial lake such as the one at the base of Grinnell Glacier—was chosen as an index glacier for annual surveys and other measurements in a collaboration with Joel Harper and Blasé Reardon at the University of Montana. Sperry Glacier shrank from 0.89 km2 in 2003 to 0.86 km2 in 2005, according to precision GPS surveys of the margins at the end of the summer melt season. This represents a 3.6% loss in two years. Sperry Glacier will be monitored for mass balance, movement and ice depth in addition to its area. A climate station and automated camera have been installed, and GPS surveys of its margins and other features will continue annually. Spring 2009 2009 Spring

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Blasé Reardon

The terminus of Chaney Glacier, shown in 1911 and 2005.


o better understand the connection between changing climate and shrinking glaciers, all available data were used to build a computer-based projection of glacier dynamics now and into the future. With colleague Myrna Hall, this projection focused on the Blackfoot-Jackson Glacier Basin of Glacier National Park, where ice cover had decreased from 21.6 km2 in 1850 to 7.4 km2. Using the temperature records from nearby weather stations, the climatic causes of glacier retreat in the Blackfoot-Jackson Basin were analyzed, the melt rate (change in glacier area/decade) was determined, and the topographic influences on the spatial pattern of melt were examined. Analysis of glacial area extent per decade from 1850 to 1979 versus a variety of climatic drivers reveals that annual precipitation and summer mean temperature together explain 92% of the loss over time. Using this information, potential future glacier behavior under both a “climate as usual” and a “global warming” scenario was predicted per decade until 2100. These images of changing glaciers and landscapes were displayed for each climate scenario as an animated time series and indicated that all glaciers in the basin will disappear by the year 2030 if current trends of increasing temperatures continue under the “global warming” scenario. Even if no further

warming occurs, the glaciers were predicted to be all but gone by 2100. The results were confirmed by several other computer models that also estimate that all glaciers will be gone between 2030 and 2050 at current warming rates in the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains. If the largest glaciers in Glacier Park will be gone by 2030, it is likely that the smaller glaciers will likely be gone as well. More recent measurements of the Blackfoot-Jackson Glaciers indicate that the area in 1998 (2.94 km2) was substantially less than the computer model predicted for 2000 (3.89 km2) and was only slightly greater than the area predicted for 2010 (2.44 km2). This indicated that the glaciers were being reduced to specific areas nearly 10 years earlier than predicted. Myrna Hall compared the predicted temperature increase used in the model for 1990–2007 against the actual temperature increase in Glacier Park for the same period. The actual increase was twice as much as the model predicted. Precipitation was variable but did not have a net increase. This leaves the temperature increase as the cause of accelerated glacier retreat. It also means that the model was too conservative in predicting the demise of glaciers by 2030. Without a significant reversal in the upward trend in temperatures, the glaciers will continue to disappear, perhaps as early as 2020.

Results from the study can be seen at: See the entire time lapse photo collection at: 20 20

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Without a significant reversal in the upward trend in temperatures, glaciers will continue to disappear, perhaps comp l ete ly by 2020. In 1997, my staff and I initiated the Repeat Photography Project with photographs repeated from historic images of the Grinnell and Boulder glaciers in Glacier National Park. The images revealed dramatic glacial recession and became, for many people, some of the first visual representations of the effects of climate change. Since then, repeat photography has proved to be a critically important tool for documenting and analyzing the retreat and disappearance of glaciers at Glacier Park. Of equal importance has been its function as a compelling communication medium for educating the public and policymakers about the dramatic transformation of the park over the last century of warming temperatures. Because humans are predisposed toward visual information, photographic evidence often trumps other types of data in convincing people that fundamental changes have occurred. The earliest photographs taken of the area that was destined to become Glacier Park date from 1861, when a joint U.S.-British survey expedition was marking the boundary between the U.S. and Canada along the 49th parallel. These photographs were taken by the British surveyors and are of poor resolution, but they document a cold and stark landscape. Photographs do exist of Dr. Lyman Sperry and his team on Sperry Glacier in 1887 and by G.B. Grinnell at various times in the 1890s on Grinnell and other glaciers. However, the earliest photograph deemed useful for documenting glacier retreat is from 1900 by W.C. Al-

den, which shows a panoramic view of Grinnell Glacier. Repeat photography in Glacier Park has been used to effectively show other types of environmental change in mountains. Alpine treeline changes, geomorphological events, the aftermath and long-term recovery from wildland fire, and changes in grasslands have all been documented with repeat photography. Beginning in 1997, a systematic search was made of the archives at Glacier Park and elsewhere to locate appropriate historic photographs of glaciers. To date, photographs have come from sources as diverse as personal collections to the National Park archives in Washington, D.C. Photographs and negatives are digitally scanned, and copies are taken into the field to locate the photo site where the historic photograph was taken. A modern photograph is taken (i.e. repeated), and photo pairs are that focus on the glacier in that landscape are digitally created. Some of the photo sites have required multi-day hikes to relocate, and glaciers’ photographs must be taken late in the summer when snow has melted enough to reveal the ice and extent of the glacier. Fair weather, good air quality and the absence of late-season forest fires are also required. Thus, there is a narrow window of opportunity to repeat photographs each year. At this time, 44 photo points, or camera stations, overlooking 19 glaciers have been located where repeat photographs can be taken.

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Early park visitors in 1932 made the long trek to see Boulder Glacier in the northwest corner of Glacier National Park. Just over 50 years after the original image was recorded, rapid glacial retreat has eliminated the ice, and vegetation has become established at the glacier’s forefront, and by 1988, only glacial rubble and streams remained.

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Jerry De Santo (1988 photo)

Dramatic changes have taken place over various time periods. I previously reported that 13 of 17 glaciers showed obvious reductions in size when comparing historic to repeated images. However, from 2005 to 2007, even glaciers that seemed to resist retreat, such as the Gem and Sexton glaciers, have begun retreating. The paired photographs of the Boulder Glacier ice cave are significant from both a cultural and natural-resource perspective. The 1932 image illustrates the attraction that early tourists to Glacier Park had for glaciers as charismatic geological phenomena. The tourists are part of a guided horse-packing trip to the Glacier Park backcountry, and the furry chaps of the guide are visible on the figure closest to the ice cave. A mere 56 years later, all of the ice is gone, and vegetation has become established in the forefield of the glacier. This repeat photograph garnered the most media attention in 1997 and provided the impetus for establishing our current project. Spring 2009 2009 Spring

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The thick, crevassed ice flows of historic Shepard Glacier, captured here in 1913, diminished to less than 0.1 km2 in area by 2005. According to the criteria set by the USGS Repeat Photography Project, Shepard Glacier is now considered to be too small to be defined as a glacier.

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BlasĂŠ Reardon

Shepard Glacier clearly illustrates that glaciers have complex boundaries and features in these mountain environments. In 1913, the upper glacier portion in the wide cirque has crevassing indicative of fairly thick ice. The glacier flows down to the bench, where ice previously broke off the glacier front and fell to the valley below. By 2005, however, only a remnant of debris-covered ice (darkly streaked) remains in the upper left part of the cirque, and bedrock is showing elsewhere. Shepard Glacier is less than 0.1 km2 in area in 2005 and is thus considered by some scientists to be too small to be defined as a glacier. The modern photograph underscores this point compellingly.

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The paired photographs of Boulder Glacier on Boulder Pass in the northwest corner of Glacier Park show the virtual disappearance of all ice where a substantial glacier existed around 1910. In the 1910 photograph, the glacier actually extends to the right over Boulder Pass, and a lobe flows down toward the next drainage. Matching this photograph required several hundred meters of climbing to a ridge—a feat we were glad to do with a relatively lightweight camera instead of the heavy, cumbersome gear that Elrod carried to his camera station.

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he series of photographs from the summit of Mt. Gould looking down on Grinnell Glacier are somewhat unique for glaciers in the Northern Rocky Mountains because they show the reduction in ice height from 1938, when ice filled the cirque, to the melting of the glacier into the glacial lake at its foot. The height of the cliff behind the lake is nearly 150 meters. Prior to 1938, the ice-surface elevation was high enough to connect with the upper band of ice, now known as Salamander Glacier. This series also illustrates the forward movement of the glacier into the lake. A dark, triangular rock pile can be seen in the middle of the ice in 1981, and by 1998, it has moved to the front margin of the glacier (the dark diamond shape protruding into the lake). It, and much of the glacier front, disappeared by 2006. A website for viewing the collection of repeat photographs and for downloading the images was launched in March 2006 in response to the overwhelming number of requests received (http://nrmsc. This website has a number of features that are designed to make the use of the imagery as convenient as possible. There has been extensive use of the website. Users have spanned the globe and included places such as North Korea and Qatar. Users from Japan and Germany have been the most frequent visitors after U.S. users. By user type, the U.S. government has recorded the most use, but commercial use (hits from dot-com domains) are a close second. There has been active use by dot-edu domains as well. A user form is included in the instructions and guidelines can be found at the repeat photography website, but filling out the form is voluntary. However, from the forms returned, we know that the repeat photographs have been used in numer-

ous media outlets (e.g., TV or various websites), print media (e.g., ranging from Time magazine to RV Quarterly and Airstream Life), books (from those on debate to the insurance industry), educational curricula and lesson plans (from Russia to Brazil), scientific websites (including the Hadley Centre for Climate Research in the U.K.), and numerous other publications. In addition, links to our website have been created at hundreds of other websites, and the repeat photographs have been reposted on numerous other websites. All of these examples underscore the power of repeat photography in providing a compelling message to the public. After several years, the glacier photographs were increasingly used not only for scientific documentation and education but also as inspiration for artists. The photographs found additional purpose, filled an unanticipated demand, and have clearly resonated with audiences of diverse interests and backgrounds. Thus, the genesis for an exhibit at the Hockaday Museum of Art was born—to offer historic and modern photographs of glaciers in Glacier National Park as visually compelling landscape art and equally compelling documentation of landscape change. With a major effort from colleague Lisa McKeon and help from the museum director and staff, this exhibit opened on January 29, 2009, and runs through April 10, 2009. Information can be obtained at: We hope you will examine these photographs in both their scientific and artistic contexts—either at the USGS website for repeat photos or in person at the Hockaday Museum of Art—and that you will appreciate the bridge between art and science as two highly complementary views of our dynamic mountain landscapes.

Opposite: This oblique view of Grinnell Glacier not only shows the decrease in the glacier’s area, but also the obvious reduction in the depth of the glacier along the cirque wall, where the original ice surface elevation was high enough to connect with the upper band of ice. The photos date from 1938, 1981 (Carl Key), 1998 (Dan Fagre) and 2006 (Karen Holzer).

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2008 (Lisa McKeon)


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1887 Courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

lthough shrinking glaciers are the most visible signals of mountain ecosystem change, there are numerous other, if more subtle, changes taking place. Increased growth at upper elevation forests has resulted in subalpine meadows becoming smaller and trees extending higher into alpine tundra. Expanding tree populations have complex consequences for alpine wildlife, as open habitats are reduced but fuel continuity for forest fires and snow retention are increased. These and other changes are explored in a recently published book on the Crown of the Continent titled Sustaining Rocky Mountain Landscapes: Science, Policy and Management of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem (RFF Press, 2007). This book has 39 authors who address the breadth and complexity of the Crown of the Continent mountain landscape in 19 chapters. The project is merely a beginning; however, this electronic magazine and the Crown of the Continent Initiative are further pathways by which we can learn about and better appreciate this special part of the planet.

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on the

C lyde F ickes

Clyde Fickes in 1947 (U.S. Forest Service)

This piece is excerpted from a report Clyde Fickes wrote in May 1944. It appeared in Volume 1: Early Days In The Forest Service. His words are unedited and appear as he penned them. Fickes retired from the Forest Service in 1947. He died on Dec. 29, 1987, at age 103, from an accident on the dance floor. 32

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y Mountain Front

An Early-Day Ranger’s Story

I applied for work on the old Lewis & Clark National Forest in the spring of 1907. Appointed a Forest Guard on July 1st at $60 per month and supplying two horses, and myself I was assigned to a survey party on the Swan River. On July 23rd and 24th I took the Forest Ranger examination at Kalispell and was directed to go to the Hannan Gulch Ranger Station on the North Fork of the Sun River. It has always been my impression that I was not considered a very promising candidate for ranger by Acting Supervisor A.C. McCain, so he figured, “I’ll give this kid an assignment that he won’t want to accept, or else he will never get to Sun River and we will be well rid of him.” They gave me a badge, a Use Book, and a Green Book and told me “When you get to Hannan, you can take charge of the Sun River District.” That’s how I became a orest ranger in 1907. Well, I fooled McCain. I had discussed with Ranger Jack Clack the possible routes to follow. He had suggested the best route for that time of year was to go up “Big River”, the Middle Fork of the Flathead, follow the railroad until I reached the east side, and then south across country, until I reached Sun River. Leaving Kalispell on July 26th, with saddle and packhorses, I swam the South Fork (of the Flathead), which was high, and camped the first night at the old Fitzpatrick homestead about where the present highway bridge is located. Most of the trail followed the tote road used in building the railroad back in the ‘90s, and there were places where the trail lay between the iron rails, which made travel by horse a little hazardous at times, as one never knew when a train would want to use the tracks. That second night on the trail, I camped about 3 or 4 miles east of Belton (West Glacier) on the old tote road grade near some cabins where there was good Spring 2009


grass for the horses. The next day, I made it to Essex and camped for the night with Ranger Dick Bradley and his family. In the morning the horses and I forded the “Big River” and even though the current was rather fast, we made it to the other side all right without much difficulty and proceeded up Bear Creek. Camped at the Phil Gypher place at his invitation, as there was good horse feed, and we were tired. From Bear Creek we rode to the Lubec Ranger Station. Flies were real bad, giving the horses no rest, and I stayed over the next day to catch our breath. This was July 31, 1907. The problem now was to get across the Blackfeet Indian Reservation without having to go to Browning for a pass, therefore saving myself 2 days time. I camped at Wolf Plume’s place on the Little Badger that night. I had worked on the cow roundup on the Reservation the year before and knew these Indians. They were camped on Wolf Plume’s personal allotment putting up the hay. There were 5 or 6 tepees of them. A couple of years before that, the Government had built for Chief Wolf Plume a tworoom log cabin and partially furnished it, and it had never been used-even one night. The old man took me over and showed me the cabin and told me to camp in it for the night. I thanked the Chief and he said to me “You got pass?” I shook my head. He grinned, shook his head, and left me to make camp. There was a new six-hole Majestic stove in the cabin, and it had never had a fire in it. I didn’t disturb its virginity!

I finally pulled into the little town of Dupuyer late that next night. We were tired; it had been a long, hot day. A manger full of hay looked good to my horses. I went looking for a steak for myself. Late the next afternoon we arrived at Ranger Linc Hoy’s ranch on Blackleaf Creek, spent the night and in the morning headed to the Godwin Ranch at the forks of Deep Creek. The horses had a good roll and spent the night in knee-deep grass. Left Godwin Ranch about 9:30 A.M. and arrived at last at the Hannan Gulch Ranger Station at about 2:30 P.M. It was quite a climb down into the Sun River Canyon on a narrow winding trail, across bare slide areas made by deer and elk on slopes as steep as 60 degrees and more. According to my diary, I had traveled some 190 miles in 10 days to reach my post of duty.


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Hannan Ranger station in 1907. (U.S. Forest Service)

At Hannan, I found Assistant Ranger Henry Waldref in charge. He was an old-timer who had been appointed to patrol the forests and watch for forest fires for 6 months each year. He had a mining claim near Lincoln, and his 6 months’ wages from the Forest Service were his winter’s grubstake. Henry was camped in a tent along the creek, and I joined him there. To him the job was just a summer’s outing. He had been in the hills for years; and I sure picked up a lot of handy ideas from him about life in the mountains and living off the back of a packhorse that have been useful to me all my life. At that time, the Sun River Ranger District, with headquarters at the Hannan Gulch Ranger Station, included all of what is now called the Sun River drainage, (then called the North Fork), the Deep Creek drainage to the north and the Willow and Ford Creek drainages to the south. At that time, the stream running through the town of Augusta was known as the South Fork of the Sun River. What is now known as the South Fork of the Sun River was then known as the South Fork of the North Fork, and we also had the West Fork of the South Fork of the North Fork of the Sun River. The Sun River country comprises some very interesting, not to say spectacular, to-

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pography. The river comes out of the mountains in a due east and west course some 8 or 9 miles and breaks through a series of five sawtooth-like reefs, ranging in elevation from 6,000 to 8,000 feet, with the river at 4,500 feet. The reefs are perpendicular on the east face and at a 45 to 60 degree angle on the west. Looks just like a row of sawteeth. At the junction of the North and South Forks, the river runs due north and south for some 45 to 50 miles and forms a beautiful valley with many open parks and side streams which head up against the Continental Divide on the west, part of which is known as the Chinese Wall, as spectacular a piece of country as you will see anywhere. Natives of the area are brown, black and grizzly bear; blacktailed deer; elk; moose; mountain sheep and goat; and the usual run of mountain small fry. Cattle grazing was permitted on all the Sun River Ranger District except the West Fork of the South Fork and Pretty Prairie, which was reserved for winter elk feed. In May 1908, I counted and estimated that 500 to 600 elk wintered on the West Fork licks and vicinity. That was about all the elk in that area at that time. The business of the district, which included all the forest from Deep Creek on the north to Ford Creek on the south, included 10 or 12 grazing permits for cattle on the upper North Fork, Beaver Creek, Woods Creek, Ford and Willow Creeks and along the boundary south of the North Fork. Also there were a few free use permits for wood on Willow Creek. A typical entry in my diary for August 13th reads: “Rode up Beaver Creek road to Willow Creek, crossed over to Ford Creek and then rode NE to Witmer’s ranch. Range along Beaver Creek getting short. Posted 4 fire warnings on Beaver Creek. No fires. 8 to 5.” On September 30th, notice was received from Supervisor Page S. Bunker of Kalispell that a ranger meeting would be held at the mouth of White River on the South Fork of the Flathead River from October 14th to 18th inclusive. The supervisor had just returned from a six months detail to the Washington office and I guess he wanted to find out if his rangers could get around in the mountains satisfactorily. Eustace A. Woods, who was the ranger on the old Dearborn District and on occasion known as “Useless” to his close friends, was in town the same time I was and we agreed that, in company with four others, we would assemble at the mouth of the West Fork of the South Fork on the North Fork of the Sun River and trail over the Continental Divide together. Only one of the group had been over the route with a hunting party and was to be the guide. I call it a “route” advisedly, because there was no such thing as a located trail except along the main river. The appointed day of our meeting for departure was October 8th, but due to circumstances I could not get there.


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On the morning of October 9th, Linc Hay, the ranger from Teton District and I left Hannan and camped at the beaver dams on the West Fork. The others had not waited for us so it was a case of finding our own trail over the divide. My diary for October 10th reads, “moved up West Fork Trail, camped on top of the divide under the cliffs. Jumped about five miles of logs. Bum trail. “ The next day we pulled down to the mouth of White River to be the first arrivals at the meeting site. Woods and the others had stopped to try to get some elk meat, but failed to do so. All in all, nearly 20 rangers and guides gathered here to meet with Supervisor Bunker and Inspector D.C. Harrison from Washington D.C. Like all its successors, the ranger meeting on White River was mostly talk. We also did a Ranger Station survey under the direction of Inspector Harrison and on the third day, all moved down the river to Black Bear where a new cabin was being built for the ranger headquarters. Snow was beginning to cover the high country so those from the east side—some nine of us—pulled out for home. No one wanted to buck the logs on the West Fork, so we went up to the Danaher Ranch and crossed through Scapegoat Pass and some 16 or 18 inches of snow. On November 6th I received a notice from the Civil Service Commission that I had passed the ranger examination and was eligible for appointment. On July 1, I had been appointed a forest guard at $720 per annum, promoted to $900 on August 1, appointed an assistant forest ranger on November 11 at $900 and on January 1, 1908, promoted to deputy forest ranger at $1,000. The Hannan Ranger Station consisted of an old log cabin, 16x20, and dirt roof, a 14x16 hewn-log cabin with box corners, a log barn, corral, hay meadow and pasture —all taken from a former homesteader or squatter named Jim Hannan, who allegedly operated a station on the old Oregon-Montana horse rustling trail. The story is that Jim also liked beef steaks and occasionally butchered a steer, regardless of whose brand it might bear. Seems like the neighboring ranchers, led by one of the largest cow owners in the Sun River country, surrounded Jim in his old cabin and convinced him with a few “Winchester salutes” that it would be advisable to do a Iittle dickering if he wanted to continue life’s journey. Bullet holes were still evident when I occupied the cabin. Old Jim agreed to leave the country and not come back. Shortly after that, maybe 2 or 3 years later, the Government pre- empted it for use of us Forest Rangers.

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For a Ranger Station, no more isolated or lonesome spot could have been found. Visitors were practically unheard of for months at a time. The nearest neighbor was Johnny Mortimer who homesteaded in the gulch named for him. Johnny was a recluse and a bachelor. He never went to town. He had complete surveillance of all approaches. If he was not in the mood and a visitor approached, he would simply fade away into the rocky cliffs behind the cabin and would not come out until the visitor left. Whenever I was going to Augusta, I would let him know. He would give me a list of anything he needed, and I always picked up any mail for him. Several old-time friends paid him periodic visits. Sometimes one of them would stay all night at the cabin, but Johnny would not come in. About the most convenient facility connected with the Sun River District was the built-in bathtub with hot and cold running medicated water. There was a warm, almost hot, mineral spring at the forks of the North and South Fork. Over the years users of the spring had dug out a sizable pool. There was a cave where the water came out. I took advantage of this convenience whenever possible. I was told by some of the old-timers that in the ‘90s, in the late summer and early fall, a hundred or more folks from as far down as Great Falls would be camped at the springs. It was a beautiful spot until the Reclamation outfit ruined it with Gibson dam. In the fall of 1907 I helped build a beautiful two- room log cabin on the flat just below the spring. When Gibson Dam was built, the cabin was moved up to Arsenic Creek and burned in the 1919 fire. Incidentally, there was a double log cabin on Arsenic Creek known as the Choteau or Medicine Cabin, built by some Choteau men and used as a hunting camp in the fall. It was a convenient stopping place for all of us travelers. What about the forest fires? Well, there just weren’t any. I do not recall that we had any lightning to speak of all that summer, and it was plenty hot at times. Also, there were not very many people roaming around in the hills.

When I left Kalispell, my equipment consisted of a regular stock saddle with a blanket and bridle and a sawbuck packsaddle with a blanket and saddle pad, a pair of canvas alforjas (pack bags), a halter, and a lead rope for the packhorse. Camp equipment, consisting of two long- handled fry pans, three tin plates, coffee pot, table knives, forks and spoons, a hunting knife in scabbard, a .32 Special 1894 Winchester rifle with leather scabbard, my camp bed, and extra clothes, a yellow Fish brand slicker (raincoat to you) and a canvas pack cover 7x7.


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My food supply consisted of a slab of Winchester bacon, 10 pounds flour, can of baking powder, salt, sugar, canned tomatoes, corn, string beans and milk-three of each. This stuff made a packhorse’s load about 180 pounds. It was packed in the alforjas, which made two side packs for the packhorses, and the bed folded into a top pack with the canvas pack over it-rain and dust proof. Then I threw a diamond hitch (the one-man diamond which Jack Clack showed me) over the canvas cover, and we were ready to travel. The saddle horse carried the rifle in a leather scabbard, which hung from the saddle horn, my slicker, and me, which spent in travel with this kind of an outfit. Each individual used his own variation according to personal ideas and desires. Cooking was done over an open fire, and you soon became accustomed to a regular routine of setting up camp. First, the horses were turned out to graze. Maybe you hobbled them or picketed one and turned the others loose to graze. Then you rustled some dry wood, selected a place downwind for your campfire, and got the fire started. Then you set up camp. Most of us carried a 7x9 tent with 18-inch sidewalls; this was pitched in a convenient dry place. The bedroll was spread over fir boughs, if you were inclined to luxury. By that time, the fire had burned down to a good bed of coals (only tenderfeet attempt to cook over a blazing fire). You ate, washed dishes, smoked a pipe or two or a cigarette, took a good look at the horses and probably, just before bedding down, decided for various reasons—poor feed, stormy weather prospects —to catch the horses and tie them up for the night. For various reasons, known only to a horse, they will take off during the night; and you have a long walk to find them. Sometimes you don’t find them for 3 or 4 days; that’s hard on the legs, not to mention your temper. In the morning you start a fire, check the horses, fix breakfast, pack up, bring in the horses, saddle up, and you are on your way. In those early days you probably spent an hour or two cutting logs out of the trail or just clearing the way to get through to where you wanted to go. That was the way you lived in the field, as it is sometimes referred to. Old Henry Waldref had a homemade sheetiron folding stove that he packed with him. On a cold wet night, it would make a 7x9 tent almost luxurious living. Oh yes, most of us packed a sourdough can with us at all times. Couldn’t live without it! So went the life of a forest ranger in 1907-08.

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Flathead Lake the

Biological Station Story and Photos by Jack Stanford

Located on the east shore of the big lake, the Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) of The University of Montana plays a key role in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem by conducting scientific research on processes that influence natural and cultural interactions. Scientists at FLBS have provided a clear understanding of how the alpine, mountain and river valley landscapes are ecologically interconnected in natural and cultural contexts. Detailed records show how organisms respond to human influences, including climate change, and how human economies and lifestyles are tied to the natural goods and services of the ecosystem.

History: “the leading freshwater field research statio Professor Morton Elrod and The University of Montana established the FLBS in 1899. Elrod envisioned a base of operations for college education and research in the pristine environs of Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. He and other visionaries of the time (Grinnell, Pinchot) knew that human well-being was dependent on a scientific understanding of the natural and cultural attributes and processes of regional ecosystems. Moreover, Elrod recognized the immense educational value of the landscape that he and his colleagues called the “Crown of the Continent.” 40

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The first summer classes using the Crown of the Continent ecosystem (CCE) as the classroom were held at the newly founded Yellow Bay campus in 1901. Young people from around the nation studied with UM and visiting professors in the lake environs near the station and took horse-packing trips deep into the mountains. Professor Elrod helped create Glacier National Park and was the park’s first official naturalist. In addition to the big lake, the park soon became the focal point for summer students.

FLBS graduate classes focus on limnology (water science), remote sensing and modeling of ecosystem processes, and conservation of ecosystem goods and services.

on in the world” Elrod’s vision inspired the expansion of FLBS into a world-class field station during the 1980s and 1990s. The station was designated a “Center of Excellence” by the UM Board of Regents in 1986. The new program integrated research and education and enhanced outreach such as routine monitoring and reporting of water quality to local NGOs and agencies; these are key functions that have identified FLBS for well over 100 years. At the FLBS Centennial Celebration in 1999, the world-renowned scientist Professor Charles Goldman of the University of California-Davis stated that FLBS has become

“the leading freshwater field research facility in the world.” Since 2000, the FLBS has expanded the scope of work to include terrestrial and climate issues in a systems ecology context. Today, FLBS is an important technology center for Montana, as it produces skilled scientists for local, state and national positions; creates jobs in-house; and pumps over $5 million per year into the local economy via expenditures derived from the many competitive research awards won by FLBS faculty.

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Research: “complex linkages” The most important functions of FLBS are basic and applied ecological research as well as the dissemination of the results and implications of our research to society. This work encompasses many aspects of ecology but emphasizes ways to sustain the natural goods and services provided by freshwater ecosystems. We recognize that fresh water is vital to human health, economies and overall quality of life. We also recognize that cumulative impacts of human activities compromise the ecological structure and function of the watershed ecosystems from which our freshwater supplies are drawn. The FLBS strives to advance an understanding of the complex linkages between atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic and human components of watershed ecosystems in a natural-cultural context. This requires a “genes to ecosystems” approach, and the research faculty that has been developed at FLBS over the last two decades and is therefore purposefully interdisciplinary, formally integrating the biological and physical aspects of ecology with economic and cultural influences on ecosystem processes. Currently, seven PhD-holding faculty members work together at FLBS. These professors have divergent, but complementary, skills, experience and personal research interests, ranging from microbial ecology to ecosystem processes and modeling—hence the reference to the FLBS program as “systems ecology.” The work of the faculty at the Biological Station is supported by a talented staff with skills that complement the FLBS mission and add considerably to our research capability. In July 2008, 54 scientists and graduate students were employed in full- or part-time positions. The research takes FLBS scientists throughout the CCE and on around the world to watershed ecosystems in South America, Europe, Scandinavia and the Russian Far East. For example, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (San Francisco, CA) has committed over $10 million to FLBS during 2003–2010 for research to examine structure, function and conservation of the most pristine 42

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salmon rivers of the northern Pacific Rim. This research, in close cooperation with the Wild Salmon Center (Portland, OR), encompasses the Salmonid Rivers Observatory Network (SaRON) and is designed to yield important new insights and actions to proactively assist the preservation of intact salmon river ecosystems, restore degraded systems and revise and improve the management of wild salmon as a natural resource. SaRON operates field camps in Argentina, Alaska, British Columbia and Kamchatka; FLBS staff scientists run the research operations in these camps. The Sa-

UM graduate students run tests in Glacier National Park. What a “boring” place to study.

RON initiative is interactive with a NSF-EPSCoR program in Large River Ecosystems that was funded in 2007; FLBS faculty member Dr. Richard Hauer was recently appointed Director of the UM-EPSCoR program. Our cooperative work with the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group (NTSG) at UM and the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology is raising the bar daily on understanding of climate change processes by modeling data from an array of sensors on earth-observing satellites and on-the-ground monitoring sites. FLBS associate research professor John Kimball is a principal modeler

for the Soil Moisture Active-Passive mission of the National Atmospheric and Space Administration for 2010 that will underpin global analyses of river runoff in relation to climate warming. Thus, FLBS research results and implications are contained in over 200 scientific papers that may be viewed on our website, along with faculty bios and descriptions of ongoing research projects. Results and implications of the work have been widely covered by national and international media—most recently in Chile, where FLBS scientists are helping evaluate influences of several mega-dams planned for Patagonian rivers. Spring 2009


Alpine ecology class in Glacier National Park.

Academics: “hands-on, in-the-field” Summer Academic Session for Undergraduates While FLBS has become a world-class research center, another FLBS trademark is teaching ecology in a hands-on, in-the-field fashion. The annual summer academic program at FLBS throughout its 100+-year history has offered novel, field-based classes for undergraduate and graduate students with a focus on field-based study and observation. The session typically runs from mid-June to early August. The FLBS courses are high-content and tough, emphasizing research design, analysis and reporting (written and verbal), plus practical application. Enrollment is limited to 13 students per class, and therefore, student-professor contact is at least 50% higher than typically occurs in the usual university lecture-lab courses. Our objective is to produce leadership-oriented graduates with a robust, field-based understanding of principles and tools that must be applied for the conservation of ecosystem goods and services for sustained human well-being worldwide. 44

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The FLBS Graduate Program: Systems Ecology Advising MS and PhD students and funding their work through research assistantships on grants/ contracts is a primary duty of university science faculty. FLBS faculty routinely recruit top graduate students from around the country to participate in novel studies associated with the many FLBS research projects in the CCE and around the world. FLBS faculty teach highly technical graduate courses—which are available to campus-based students through Internet conferencing and weekend field trips to Flathead Lake and the CCE—to enable them to use the sophisticated instrumentation and remote sensing tools used in the FLBS labs and field sites. These graduate classes focus on the complex details of limnology (water science); remote sensing and modeling of ecosystem processes; and conservation of ecosystem goods and services in the CCE and adjacent areas—notably the Greater Yellowstone and Greater Frank Church Wilderness ecoregions.

Outreach: “consensus building”

The Biological Station is an ideal place for focused workshops, owing to its setting on the shoreline of Flathead Lake and the modern FLBS facilities for small groups working over several-day periods. We have hosted many scientific workshops and forums that produced scientific papers of international importance. Each year, a variety of workshops and short courses sponsored by agencies and NGOs are held at FLBS. These are designed to inform citizens, teachers and professionals about tools and approaches for solving contemporary ecological problems. The main method for disseminating research results is through peer-reviewed scientific papers and books and presentations at professional conferences nationally and around the world. However, we recognize the practical importance of presenting research results to local government agencies and the public. FLBS science strives to be politi-

cally neutral, but the faculty and staff do not shy away from controversial issues if FLBS studies, data or informed judgments may assist in issue resolution. FLBS scientists are routinely asked to provide research data and experience to public officials and to NGOs, such as the Flathead Lakers and Flathead Basin Commission. The goal is to use FLBS science as the basis for consensus building in environmental problem solving. The Biological Station is proactively participating in the Crown Initiative begun in 2008 to formally link Glacier National Park and The University of Montana in education and research for the purpose of conserving the CCE. The FLBS will provide information about the Crown via the FLBS website at, workshops, science field tours and general-interest classes. An electronic visitor center at FLBS has recently been funded to allow the linkage of FLBS to other Crown activities.

How FLBS has helped protect and add value to the Crown ecosystem •

Provided key testimony of scientific studies describing biodiversity of the Crown as rationale for designation of Glacier National Park as a world heritage site.

Provided data and interpretations about water quality in Flathead Lake based on continuous measurements since 1977 that guided basin-wide strategies for minimizing air and water pollution.

Provided primary analyses that led to provision of permanent federal reserve water rights for the virgin flows of the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River that preclude any dams or significant water extractions in perpetuity to protect regional biodiversity and water quality of Glacier National Park.

Provided detailed information and consultation since 1980 to agencies of the Flathead Basin Commission to prevent strip mining of coal and other landscape disturbances in the Canadian North Fork of the Flathead River that would harm the natural integrity of Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake.

Provided public information based on years of research to help resolve a wide array of environmental issues, including the harmful effects of urban sprawl and gravel mining on the sensitive flood plains of the Flathead River, local and long distance air pollution and food-web changes in Flathead and other CCE lakes. Spring 2009



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A Winter Morning on the rocky mountain front No matter the season, the Rocky Mountain Front—where the swell of the prairie ends abruptly against the wall of the Northern Rockies—presents a grand sight. In the depths of winter, though, the early morning hours just might show off its radiance best. In mid-February a few years back, we were making our way in the dark to one of the front’s landmarks, Sawtooth Reef, the serrated, towering limestone overthrust that guards the Sun River Canyon. Frigid temperatures made us question our mission, but a brilliant night sky had promised an unobstructed sunrise. As a pre-dawn rising wind whipped a small ground blizzard across the iced landscape, the sky dropped its cloak of darkness, and the subzero air was cleared of any haze. We had arrived on time for the performance. At first, a pale pink and red hue bathed the snow and bare rocks on the upper reaches of Sawtooth Mountain. This initial kindling started a fire-like display. A brilliant orange and red flame took over, spread into a nearly neon pink, intensified, and held. We hoped these unreal colors, so beautiful yet difficult to describe, would be preserved in our photos. As the “fire” spread to the lower ground, the sky extinguished the stars, the scene took on a more balanced perspective, and this bit of prairie and mountains was displayed in an unearthly spectacle. The winter sun seems to allow that rich first illumination to last a bit longer than in warmer months. Gradually, the stronger light of the sun took over, chasing the pinks from the landscape and leaving a brilliant diamond sparkle to the snow, highlighting the rough, jagged ridge of Sawtooth against a fierce blue sky. We gave the occurrence a standing ovation!

—Rick and Susie Graetz

Sawtooth Reef, Rick and Susie Graetz Spring 2009



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Spring 2009


All photography by Rick and Susie Graetz 50 50

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Above: The Belly River country near the U.S.-Canadian border. Taken in Alberta. Previous page: Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Sawtooth Reef on the Rocky Mountain Front, west of Augusta. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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A rainbow arcs over Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, after an autumn storm. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Above Left: The Mission Valley between Ronan and St. Ignatius. Above Right: The North Fork of the Flathead Valley, looking toward the peaks of Glacier Naitonal Park. Bottom Left: A regal bald eagle.

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Left: Encampment at Egg Mountain, a palentology site on the Rocky Mountain Front, west of Choteau. Right: A pack trip comes off of the east side of Headquarters Pass – the boundary of the Bob Marshall Wilderness – on the Rocky Mountain Front.

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Above: A winter day’s first light tints snow ghosts pink in the Whitefish Range. Left: Winter in the North Fork of the Flathead.

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Above: Flathead Lake, south of Wood’s Bay. Courtesy of the UM Flathead Lake Biological Station. Previous page: Descending Holland Peak on the crest of the Swan Range, summer. R&S Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Looking south on the Continental Divide, the Chinese Wall, in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Photo courtesy of Larry Mayer.

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A Transboundary Course on Crown of the Continent Land Management


Conservation Cooperation Story and Photos by Len Broberg


s our vans of students pulled in, Beth Russell-Towe’s smile lit up the gray October day. The Waterton wind tugged at a few loose strands of hair as she greeted the students. We were on a trip across Montana, Alberta and British Columbia for a graduate course offered jointly by the University of Montana Environmental Studies Program and the University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design as part of the Transboundary Policy, Planning and Management Initiative at the two schools. 68

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Right: Guy Greenaway of the University of Calgary Miistakis Institute explains Canadian land conservation methods to UM and UC students. Opposite: Kim Pearson of Nature Conservancy Canada points to the area protected in the Waterton Front project. Virtually all of the land in the photo is either in Waterton Lakes National Park or under conservation easement.

Beth bubbled with enthusiasm as the students described their work one by one, and this left them with a smile. With a spring in her step, she then took us on a tour of the townsite of Waterton Park, Alberta, describing its unique history and the challenges of managing a community within a national park. Renowned for her efforts to promote ecologically sustainable tourism in the Crown of the Continent and the Trail of the Great Bear, RussellTowe is just one of many remarkable human and natural resources we encounter on our annual journey through Montana, Alberta and British Columbia. The week-long trip is the centerpiece of the graduate course and the foundation of the initiative at the two schools. Throughout the journey, students meet with landowners, private industry managers, government managers and nonprofit staff to learn their perspectives, issues and approaches to conservation around different themes— energy development, large carnivore conservation, or growth management, to name a few. The course, first offered in 2000, is often the seed for research questions that the graduate students pursue for their final projects. Generously funded by the H.P. Kendall Foundation for almost a decade, the course is now a core offering at both institutions. While the half of the course in Montana offers many new insights, beautiful scenery and engaging speakers, it is the trip north of the 49th parallel that generally offers the most striking learning opportunity for the University of Montana students. Most of the students have not studied Canada in depth or even visited Alberta or British Columbia

before. The voices they hear and the sights they see leave a lasting impression. Likewise, their Canadian counterparts are offered new glimpses into land management in the U.S. The chance to share their thoughts and ideas with one another as we transect the landscape offers a profound experiential learning opportunity. For instance, one day we find ourselves perched on the edge of a yawning coalmine pit in British Columbia. The wind is slicing through the group as we huddle together to hear how the mine reclaims the land it disturbs. To the north and west, we can see the snow-dusted crest of the Greenhills Range above the Elk River. The students shiver under their hard hats and focus on the scale of the mining operation and the mountain peaks surrounding it. There is hard-won information gained here: how trees, for example, can grow in newly created topsoil laid down by the grass that was previously planted on the site’s bare mineral ground; moreover, how, with the fluctuating value of the coal resource still found below, this site may be surface-mined again. Unlike the requirements of surface coal mining in the U.S., the original topsoil does not need to be retained for reclamation under British Columbian regulations. On another day, we hike into a grove of giant cottonwood trees down in the Elk River Valley. These are some of the oldest cottonwoods now living on the planet, and we marvel at their age and the human history they have lived through. Predating the arrival of Western European explorers like David Thompson by several hundred years, Spring 2009


these trees have likely witnessed K’tunaxa and Kootenay boundary with Waterton Lakes National Park. A trail that First Nation members fishing, hunting, traveling and starts in the Waterton townsite snakes over the divide camping among their trunks. through Akamina Pass and continues down into AkaminaOur tour guides for this day are from the Nature Kishenina Provincial Park—a provincial protected Conservancy Canada, Shell Canada and Tembec area that encompasses the peaks on the west side of the Corporation. Shell has turned over the Mount Broadwood divide and trails down along part of the northern border area of British Columbia to Nature Conservancy Canada of Glacier National Park. Some conservationists have (NCC) to manage for conservation. We stand at a turnout promoted the idea of placing the east side of the Flathead above the Wigwam River and survey the mountainside into an expansion of Waterton Lakes National Park, thus for bighorn sheep. NCC continues to allow hunting in regaining some of the land taken out of the park soon after the reserve, as well as fishing and other recreation, but its establishment in the early twentieth century. We look it carefully manages access and motorized vehicle use to up toward the peaks and see the densely forested lands that preserve habitat security for grizzly bears would be part of this national park for offand other animals using the site. road vehicles, including snowmobiles. We bump and rattle over many Our speakers and students share mixed kilometers of gravel roads, then over a opinions about such use of the watershed, pass and down to the Flathead River. weighing conflicts between the grizzly Relieved students rush out of the van, a bears habitat security and the opportunity few showing the effects of a couple hours to see a wild area through motorized of twists and turns behind the rear axle. access. During the winter months, Just a few miles downstream, the name of snowmobiles are the only way into the the same body of water changes to “North area. A provincial management plan that is Fork of the Flathead” once it crosses the adopted after our trip closes the southern border into Montana. All that marks the part of the Flathead watershed’s east side border along the river now is a concrete to most motorized access off the existing obelisk, like a miniature Washington road network, settling the issue for now. Monument; the border cut (a swath of On the east side of the Continental cleared forest stretching through WatertonDivide, we hear from ranchers outside the Glacier International Peace Park); and an national Park. They speak of the pressures abandoned border-crossing station. of recreational home development from Along the river just north of the border Calgary, which can change the landscape, lies another abandoned building, which put stress on traditional agricultural uses once housed the only full-time residents in The US-Canada boundary line and make for some uneasy neighbors. the BC Flathead, and a tavern-store. After monument on the shores of Nature Conservancy Canada has found our long trip in, we can appreciate the many willing landowners for conservation the Flathead River. isolation and difficulty of access that led to easements, a type of private land the abandonment of the homestead. The BC Flathead is agreement where the landowner gives up certain future the largest unpopulated watershed along the length of the uses in exchange for cash and reduced property values, U.S.-Canada border. In the winter, access would be even which lessens the burden of property taxes. For those in more challenging. the cattle industry of southwestern Alberta, this can be We load up again and travel a short way up Sage Creek a substantial benefit, as it allows them to maintain their on the east side of the Flathead watershed. There Tembec business through marginal years by giving up the right to representatives tell us about their management of the subdivide and build more structures forever. Kootenay timber tenure. In Canada, the provinces manage NCC sees the benefit of reducing the stress on what the public land (Crown land) outside of national parks. has always been vital habitat for large mammals such Instead of making individual timber sales, like in the U.S., as elk, grizzlies and mule deer. With recreational home the province enters a forest management agreement with development come roads, pets and garbage—all sources a timber company for a period of years. Tembec has the of potential conflict with these species, especially with agreement for much of the Flathead, and it mandates a grizzlies. We hear that Waterton Lakes National Park is not certain amount of harvest within the term of the tenure large enough to support grizzlies, and thus, these private agreement. The eastern peaks of the watershed mark the lands are essential for providing areas of low elevation 70

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Students visit an Elk Valley Coal mine near Sparwood, BC.

that can serve as naturally food-rich habitats for this large predator. Across the entire Crown of the Continent, the major source of grizzly mortality is human conflict. Containing recreational development adjacent to the park is a good deal for the bears. Another side trip takes us to two reclamation sites along the Eastern Front. Our companions are members of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, a non-profit Canadian advocacy group. The first site is a reclaimed gas well site held by Shell Canada. We carefully pick our way through the muddy, rutted ground at the end of the gated road to walk into the site and see the work that has been done. Some native plants appear to be taking hold, and small shrubs stick up out of the patchily vegetated ground. CCWC pushed to have this site reclaimed. Every canyon along the southwestern Alberta East Front that is not within a national park has roads and well sites, often several. The potential number of reclamation sites is large, especially as production in parts of the Waterton gas field declines with age. Often, the sites lie dormant and are left classified as “active,” either in anticipation of reopening the well or in order to avoid reclamation costs. This site has progress to be made, but it is encouraging to CCWC that some reclamation is happening. The second site shows how the errors of the past can continue to haunt us today. The land was reclaimed and made available for livestock grazing. The cattle, however,

avoided an area within the site. Shell tested the site and found that it was heavily contaminated from disposal of drilling waste. It had not been designated as a dump site or managed to contain those types of waste, thus the disposal was unknown to Shell management. Nevertheless, reclamation will require digging up the contamination and disposing of it properly. CCWC played a role in the discovery of the contamination and is pleased that it is being addressed. The last morning dawns mostly clear, with a few clouds tinged pink by the rising sun behind the peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park. We gather in the lodge’s cozy breakfast room and pack up. The students are sad to leave, and our parting with Beth Russell-Towe is bittersweet. She waves as we head out of the drive. Our final visit is with a biologist from Waterton Lakes National Park in the bison paddock at the park. Looking across the golden fall grass, we can see part of the herd in the distance, grazing lazily. Bison are fenced in a small paddock in WLNP, although we hear how the park has explored the possibility of making the herd free-ranging to be consistent with its mission to promote ecological integrity—in this case, to restore a large grazer that maintained the grasslands in the park. Through discussions with neighboring landowners as well as a review of the biological and historical information, it becomes clear to the park staff that the area needed for a year-round freeranging herd of bison would encompass a large area of private land. Those landowners see the use of their land as forage for livestock and open space for wildlife, but not bison. The park has shelved the idea of a free-ranging bison herd for now, seeing it as impractical and costly. We gather to say our goodbyes to the other half of the class and load up for the drive home. It has been a full week, but a good one. Students have likened the experience to drinking from a fire hose. Yet, after some time for reflection and more background research, some of the students will decide to work on research issues relevant to the management of the Crown of the Continent. It is, in some small way, a means to give back to the people and the landscape we have met on our journey. Spring 2009


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Above Left: Glacier Park busses, Many Glacier Valley, ca. 1920. Unknown photographer. Right: Front cover of a 1920 Great Northern Railway brochure. Bottom: US Forest Service Ranger Frank Liebeg, ca. 1906. Unknown photographer. All photos courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

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Bill Daucks, Frank Geduhn, Esli Apgar, and Dimon Apgar at foot of Lake McDonald, ca. 1901. Glacier National Park Archives. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Supposedly first cars over GTS Road, June, 1933. Photograph by T. J. Hileman. Glacier National Park Archives. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Granite Park Chalet, ca. 1925. Photograph by T. J. Hileman. Glacier National Park Archives. Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Early day Flathead Reservation photos. Elrod Collection, the UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library

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Left: Floating logs on Flathead Lake, near Bigfork. Right: Downtown Bigfork, an early 1900s logging community. All photos courtesy of the Elrod Collection, the UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library

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Above: Belton, now West Glacier, ca. 1915. Photograph by R. E. “Ted� Marble. Glacier National Park Archives.

Right: Bigfork from above the dam. Elrod Collection, the UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

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Front cover “Dude Ranching in the Rockies,� Great Northern Railway brochure, ca. 1930. Glacier National Park Archives.

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Going-to-the-Sun Chalet, ca. 1925. Photograph by T. J. Hileman, courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives.

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Opposite: Back cover “Logan Pass Detour”, Great Northern Railway brochure, ca. 1933. Above: Front cover of “Call of the Mountains”, Great Northern Railway brochure, ca. 1930. Photos courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives Spring Spring 2009 2009

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Above: Winter in Glacier National Park, location unknown. Right: Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Many Glacier Valley, ca. 1933. Photograph by T. J. Hileman. Courtesy of Glacier Naitonal Park Archives

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Land of Extremes Story by David Bernhardt Photos by Rick and Susie Graetz


Weather on the Crown

he weather and climate of the Crown of the Continent is as varied as its topography. Though known for extremes in temperature and precipitation, the remoteness of this area has limited the amount of weather data collected. Most weather data has been collected on the periphery of the Crown. The oldest records date from around 1918, with more complete records from the late 1940s to the present. Some weather stations on the periphery began in the late 1800s. The Crown is a land of mountainous climate regimes. As such, the average temperature, precipitation and wind patterns are somewhat determined by elevation. Also, the continental divide further separates the area into two distinct climatic areas. On the west side, more precipitation falls, temperatures average warmer and winds are lighter. In the cool season, clouds more often fill the skies. The east side is somewhat the opposite—drier, cooler average temperatures and much windier. This area is subject to the rain shadow effect, where air masses dry out as the air moves at high average speeds down the east slopes, known as the Chinook zone. Again, precipitation is influenced by topography— the highest points have the highest average precipitation. 92

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inter: November - February

The seasons in the Crown do not follow widely used in January 1916, the temperature fell 100°F, from 44°F

three-month seasonal divisions. A short summer follows long winters on the Crown and much of the surrounding area. The winter season is the coldest and wettest period. As noted before, precipitation amounts normally vary with elevation, with higher areas having the greater average amounts. Snow can fall in any month, but the greatest amounts generally fall during the winter months. The highest official amount from one storm was 77.5 inches at Summit in Marias Pass January 17-22, 1972. During that month, over 131 inches of snow accumulated there. Extreme snowfall and precipitation may accumulate, especially during years influenced by a La Nina cycle. During the winter of 1996-97, Flattop Mountain recorded 28.30 inches of precipitation in January 1997. Large daily amounts also occur. In November 2006, a foot of rain melted a foot of snow at Flattop Mountain, and in a 24-hour period six inches of rain cause a flood that wreaked considerable damage to roads and culverts. Rivers approached record high levels. The level of Sherburne Reservoir increased over 17 feet as runoff from this storm accumulated in the reservoir. Swiftcurrent Creek at Many Glacier crested just under 10 feet, which was slightly below the record high level at this location. Some of the largest short-term temperature changes can also occur during the winter season. At Browning

Above: Geese gather at Freezeout Lake on a frosty day. Opposite: Rainy Lake in the Swan Valley.

to -56°F, within 18 hours. Although severe arctic cold air masses can cut temperatures to -40°F to -55°F, an extreme of -70°F was recorded near Rogers Pass on January 24, 1954 after a fresh and heavy snowfall. Cold air masses of sufficient depth on the east side of the divide can spill through passes into western valleys, resulting in bitterly cold temperatures. The chill intensifies during the long nights under inversions, where the air is coldest at the surface and warms as one rises. Dramatic warming also can occur. In January 1962, the temperature climbed 61°F in 1 hour at Pincher Creek, Alberta. Warmer Pacific air masses moderate temperatures and are often accompanied by strong Chinook winds. During these conditions, January temperatures can exceed 55-60°F on the eastern slopes. Chinook wind speeds can exceed 100 mph, but a gust of 143 mph was recorded at Miller Colony on 21 February 2002. Gusts up to 133 mph have been recorded at Logan Pass, most recently in January 2009. In January, wind speeds average as high as 27 mph over portions of the Blackfeet Reservation, just east of the Rockies. With fresh snow cover, these strong winds occasionally produce blizzard conditions on the eastern plains before the Chinook warming melts the snow. Without the periodic warm-ups, the west side retains snow cover for most of the winter.

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pring: march - June

Temperatures warm during the spring months, but several cold and stormy periods can

still prevail. There have been occasions when April averages colder temperatures than March. Precipitation drops in the late winter and early spring and increases again in May and June. The month with the greatest flood potential is June. Some of the heaviest 24-hour precipitation occurred in June 1964, when 6-7 inches of rain fell from Glacier National Park south to near Gibson Dam. During this storm, up to a foot of rain fell, this produced major flooding and severe damage to infrastructure. Swift Dam, west of Dupuyer, failed during this major rain- producing storm. In June, warming temperatures rapidly melt snow, and strong spring storms may dump heavy precipitation or produce thunderstorms, which increase in frequency throughout the spring months. Thunderstorms also have the potential to spawn large hail and strong, gusty winds. One storm in June 1955 produced 6.30 inches of rain in southwestern Alberta. Average wind speeds slowly decrease during the spring months. Over some areas west of the divide, average speeds peak in March and April, but are still lighter than the east side.


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ummer: July - August

July and August have the most consistently warm and driest weather patterns. Precipitation and average wind speeds are at a minimum, while temperatures peak. Extreme temperatures of 95-100°F are common over most areas, except the highest summits. Temperatures have reached 105°F on the Crown’s periphery (areas near Polebridge and Browning). Occasionally, stronger weather systems will produce down slope or ridge-top wind of 25-30 mph and higher gusts, but wind speed averages are lightest in the warm season. Gusts over 70 mph have occurred at Logan Pass even during the summer. Inversions in the summer produce cold temperatures, near or below freezing at night in the valleys. In general, dry air contributes to large diurnal temperature swings. It is not uncommon to rise from near freezing in the morning, to near 85°F in the afternoon in some of the Crown’s higher basins. Thunderstorm season usually peaks during the summer months, dropping off in August. Moisture is limited, meaning thunderstorms produce less rain and more lightening, which has dire implications for wildfires. Snow, occasionally heavy, may fall on the higher peaks. Even lower elevations, such as Summit (elevation 5300 feet), can collect snow under the proper conditions. In July 1972, Summit accumulated four inches on one day. An early winter storm in late August 1992 dropped a foot of snow at St. Mary.

Above: Flathead Lake as summer inches into fall. Next page: A storm sits on the Rocky Mountain Front, causing chinook winds.

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utumn: September - October The autumn season rapidly transitions to winter. Average temperatures fall quickly in September, but some delightful weather can still be found in the Crown at times. Most areas will see their first frost by the first week of September, and precipitation and winds increase. Early winter storms have produced heavy snows on the east side, followed by cold air. Even in September, Summit has recorded nearly 30 inches of snow. The Marias Pass town has recorded as much as 61 inches of snow in October (in 1951), and an extreme minimum temperature of -30°F was recorded there on October, 31 1935. Winds do increase in October on the east side, averaging near the winter mean during the month. Gusts over 100 mph have been recorded in and just to the east of the park. Overall, the Crown is a region of weather extremes due to the Crown’s widely varying topography. Temperatures peak at 100°F or slightly higher and bottom out at -50 to -70°F. The Crown in winter claims some of the coldest temperatures in Montana and surrounding areas, and not just in the month of January. Temperatures colder than -50°F also are recorded in November, December and February with heavy precipitation. This region has the highest average precipitation average in the area. Flattop Mountain averages 79.90 inches per year, with lower elevation Many Glacier averaging nearly 50 inches. The former recorded an incredible 122.40 inches of precipitation in one year (1990). When precipitation was monitored at Grinnell Glacier, a 12-month period in 1953-43 recorded 138.20 inches of moisture. Yet the rain shadow areas just east of the mountains often experience desert-like precipitation conditions. Though the Crown has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and can supply delightful weather days, it can experience some of the harshest weather conditions that nature can deliver.


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Teaching the Crown in Polebridge, Montana

Photos by Susie Graetz, Sarah Halvorson and Casey Ryan


Story by Sarah Halvorson

or the second consecutive year, UM students had the opportunity to learn about the Crown of the Continent ecosystem during all of its wintery glory. Based out of the close-knit town of Polebridge, a UM Geography course, “Montana’s Mountains” (GEOG 138, 3 credits), was held during the week of January 19–22, 2009. The course, first taught during Wintersession 2008, is the brainchild of Rick Graetz of the University’s geography faculty. This year, Graetz was joined by the department’s chair, Sarah Halvorson, to provide a hands-on and field-based learning environment centered on the unique cultural and physical landscapes of Glacier National Park (GNP) and the North Fork of the Flathead River. Polebridge (winter population: 25) is situated just outside of the GNP boundary and “off-the-grid” in the floodplain of the North Fork. This year, a total of 21 students participated in the course, effectively doubling the town’s population during the week! In addition to lectures by the Geography instructors, GNP officials, U.S. Forest Service staff, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and residents provided historical context, background, and science-based information on a range of subjects. Topics included geology and physical geography, the history and role of forest fires, tourism and recreation management, wildlife biology, cultural heritage resource management, climate change, park management, water rights and policy, and changing cultural landscapes. 98

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A University of Montana Field Course

Students spent their afternoons on field excursions, which explored many topics including winter wildlife activity.

Following the morning instruction, instructors and students embarked on field excursions with snowshoes. Three different treks took students onto the bench overlooking the North Fork, into the foothills of the Livingston Range via the Bowman Lake Road, and along the frozen floodplain of the North Fork, a river with Wild and Scenic designation. The outings provided the opportunity to observe firsthand a number of fundamental aspects of the area: the orographic processes and workings of glaciation evident in the magnificent Livingston Range; the results of wildland fires on forest succession; mountain weather and climate; the winter activity of wildlife such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, elk, moose, deer, snowshoe hares, river otters, and bald eagles; and evidence of the human history and impact, both ancient and contemporary, in the area. The field observations even included an international component, owing to the fact that the North Fork is at the center of major transboundary energy development disputes between the U.S. and Canada that threaten the integrity of the entire Flathead basin. Spring 2009


“If we were sit

Students snowshoe on the North Fork of the Flathead, near Polebridge.

Much of the area is covered in deep snow and a blanket of cold in the winter. Nevertheless, the community of Polebridge offers students a connection to individuals and a community that is deeply involved in caring for and protecting the natural capital of the area. Historically, Polebridge served as the commercial center for homesteaders, including Ben Hensen, the homesteader who gave the little town its name in 1920. The Mercantile’s baked goods, dinners at the Northern Lights, and the cozy setting of the North Fork Hostel easily made up for the lack of electricity and indoor plumbing when the temperatures hovered at or below zero each day. One student summed it up in this way: “I really enjoyed the intimate setting and the field work. I feel that the week-long immersion in the course was great for learning.” 100

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Student evaluations of the course underscored its important role in connecting UM students in meaningful ways to the land and to a landscape that has incredible conservation values and cultural and scientific relevance for Americans, as well as the global community. The most beneficial aspect of the course for one student was “being in the area of study. If we were sitting in a classroom, I would have retained maybe half as much.” Another student commented, “I really enjoyed this Wintersession course because the students were responsible for their own perspective of the place.” This very personal connection to place that was gained by the students this January will be incredibly important for the future trajectory of environment-society interactions in the Crown of the Continent.

tting in a classroom, I would have retained maybe half as much.”

Above: The “Merc” Left: Students dig into the ice on the Flathead River.

Spring 2009


Glacier National Park forest fire specialists Mitch Burgard and Dennis Devokey lecture students on the North Fork flood plain.


Crown of the Continent

Above: Sarah, Rick and the 18 students at the North Fork Hostel. Left: Students receive one last lecture before returning to campus from Jack Stanford, director of UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station.

Spring 2009


Above: Students get a feel for the “classroom� while Mitch Burgard of Glacier National Park lectures on forest fires. Right: Various tracks from animals in the area are displayed in the North Fork Hostel.


Crown of the Continent

Dinner at the Northern Lights Saloon.

The Polebridge “class orchestra� celebrates after an evening meal.

Spring 2009



The Nature Conservancy: Work in the Crown Crown of the Continent

by The Nature Conservancy of Montana

The Crown of the Continent has long been a centerpiece of The Nature Conservancy’s conservation efforts in Montana. On the eastern edge of the Crown, we have been particularly successful in leveraging funds from a variety of sources for expanding the number of conservation easements placed on the Rocky Mountain Front. Likewise, we’ve worked hard to forge lasting partnerships with public and private organizations, as well as the ranching community. To date, we are well over a third of the way toward our goal of conserving 350,000 acres on the Front. Partnership and collaboration were also keys to success in the Blackfoot Watershed at the southern edge of the Crown. In 2004, in partnership with the Blackfoot Challenge, the Conservancy purchased 89,000 acres of Plum Creek Timber land. Most of that land has been transferred to public ownership, but the core of the area—known as the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area—is now owned by the Blackfoot Challenge and is being managed by the community itself. In addition to the Plum Creek land, more than 100,000 acres of private land in the Blackfoot are protected by conservation easements. Our work in the Blackfoot launched our newest, and most ambitious, effort to date, The Montana Legacy Project. Along with the Trust for Public Land, we’re in the process of purchasing more than 310,000 acres in the Crown from Plum Creek—including all of Plum Creek’s more than 65,000 acres in the Swan River Valley, which anchors the western side of the Crown. Eventually these lands will be transferred to a combination of public and private owners. In the meantime, TNC and TPL will manage the land for preservation of wildlife habitat and watershed health, recreation, as well as sustainable timber harvests. —The Blackfoot River. Rick and Susie Graetz Spring 2009


get A glacier Education Do I have to dig all the way to the bottom of

the snow? What kind of animals could we see out here now? Hey! It’s a stellar crystal—look at this cool snowflake with the magnifying glass. by Laura Law, Glacier National Park

These are some of the comments you might hear while out snowshoeing with a middle-school group on a field trip to Glacier National Park. The middle school students arrive in the morning at the Apgar Visitor Center, where education rangers introduce them to the value of protecting national parks. The rangers then take a few minutes to help the students find significant features on a large relief map and discuss the area in which they are located. When it’s time to head outside, students are given “winter study packs” that contain magnifying glasses, snow crystal charts, rulers, snow density measuring equipment, shovels, maps, compasses, and weather instruments. The students spend 2–3 hours out with the education rangers on the trail learning about winter ecology. They also learn how snow affects the survival of winter organisms as well as how to calculate the amount of water that is in the snow. Some of the culminating questions for the day are: “How can small mammals survive all winter with the cold and snow?”; “Why do we need to keep track of how much water is in the snow?”; “What would happen if we got rain instead of snow?” Before students leave, they assemble a floor puzzle map of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. The students see that Glacier National Park is in the middle of the ecosystem, and they think about how everyone who lives in northwest Montana (and neighboring Canadian regions) not only shares these wonderful resources but also has a responsibility to care for them as well. 108

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This is just one example of the opportunities available to local students and teachers within commuting distance of Glacier National Park. Although teachers have been extending the walls of their classrooms by taking field trips to Glacier for many years, the park itself has been able to increase the number of ranger-led programs in the past four years thanks to the support of the Glacier National Park Fund and the Glacier Association. Today, teachers from grades K–12 participate in programs that are aligned with the Montana Content and Performance Standards for Science. First and second grades come to visit Glacier’s different habitats and learn about wildlife. Third through fifth grades might walk in a recently burned forest, imagining the heat and flames of the fire while considering the re-growth that has taken place since. These grades can also travel up to the Trail of the Cedars to indulge their senses in the smells and sounds of an ancient forest while observing and learning about decomposition, photosynthesis, or the parts of a tree. Many middle schools in the area consider it a “rite of passage” for the sixth graders to hike the Avalanche Lake Trail with a ranger and eat lunch at Avalanche Lake. The students learn the importance of the Avalanche Lake area for the Kootenai Indian people. They also see excellent examples of erosion, weathering, and the power of water in shaping the landscape. Student service-learning projects are available in Glacier National Park through the native plant pro-

Looking into the Many Glacier region from the park’s east side Rick and Susie Graetz

gram. The native plant program focuses on teaching students about stewardship. Middle and high school students assist plant nursery staff members throughout the school year with collecting and sowing seeds and then planting the young native plants in restoration plots in the park. You can see signs marking the boundaries of some of the restoration areas at places like the Trail of the Cedars and in the Apgar and Two Medicine campgrounds. The signs alert people not to step on the new plantings and also indicate the name of the school that helped with the restoration. In addition to all of these opportunities, Glacier National Park is fortunate to have the Glacier Institute as an education partner. The institute provides adult education courses at its field camp location in West Glacier. The courses range from one-day to multi-day trips and provide in-depth investigations with expert instructors on various park resources. The institute also offers a residential program for students and teachers at the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center in the North Fork of the Flathead River Valley. These lessons are curriculum-based and aligned with the Montana Content and Performance Standards. For families visiting Glacier in the summer, the park offers “family backpacks” that can be checked out for free for 24 hours. The packs contain field guides, binoculars, magnifying glasses, and suggestions on activities to do with the equipment. The

backpacks get the whole family investigating and exploring. A trip to the Discovery Cabin in Apgar will allow children to play track twister, match animal pelts with the correct skulls and photos, or use their sense of touch to describe objects hidden inside the “touch box.” The most popular activity for children in the summer is the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program. Glacier’s program helps children learn about wild animals and wild places, history, geology, and climate change. Families pick up the Junior Ranger Booklets for free at a park visitor center, and children who complete the required number of activities can receive a Glacier Junior Ranger Badge. Each summer, park rangers lead a variety of programs that include boat trips, hikes, evening slide shows, and family programs. A listing of all the programs can be found on the park website and in the “Glacier Explorer” newspaper available at park visitor centers. As the students in the middle school group take off their snowshoes and walk back into the visitor center to close out their day, a student turns to the ranger and says, “Wow, this was really fun!” Exactly! Glacier National Park offers a variety of educational and inviting programs that are fun for students and educational at the same time. Connecting children with the significant resources and values of the park is one of the main goals of Glacier Education. Spring 2009


Crown Managers Partnership

A view of the McDonald Valley from the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Rick and Susie Graetz

Managing for an Ecologically Healthy Crown of the Continent by Mary Riddle, Glacier National Park


ince 2001, representatives from local, provincial, state and federal government agencies, tribes and first nations with land or resource management responsibility within the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem have been meeting to explore ecosystembased ways of collaborating on shared issues in the Crown. This collaboration came to be known as the Crown Managers Partnership (CMP). The vision of the CMP is “an ecologically healthy Crown of the Continent ecosystem;” a vision we pur110

Crown of the Continent

sue by working together to: improve understanding and raise awareness of the ecological health of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem; respect individual agency mandates in alignment with the vision; and build enduring relationships and promote collaboration across mandates and borders. The “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem is one of North America’s most ecologically diverse and jurisdictionally fragmented ecosystems. Encompassing the shared Rocky Mountain region of Montana,

British Columbia and Alberta, this 28,000 squaremile (72,000 square-kilometer) ecological complex spreads across two nations, one state and two provinces; it also reaches across numerous aboriginal lands, municipal authorities, public land blocks, private properties and working and protected landscapes. The Crown is internationally recognized for its biodiversity and landscape form, ranging from flat grasslands to soaring peaks, rock and ice to lush forests, and uninhabited wilderness to densely populated settlements. This varied landscape includes the headwaters of three of North America’s major river systems as well as a full complement of wildlife species and vegetation communities; it also represents one of the last areas with the potential for large-scale connectivity. The landscape has drawn people to the region for millennia, and the long-term ecological integrity of the region is challenged because it faces intensification in all areas of human activity. The result has been increased fragmentation and loss of wildlife habitat, a decreased quality of wilderness-oriented recreational experiences, the degradation of important ecological goods and services, and uncertainty and frustration for both industrial and protection efforts. Federal, provincial, state and local land and resource management agencies, tribes and first nations in the Crown recognized that, in order to maintain essential ecological processes and manage human use within this landscape; a need existed for transboundary collaborative approaches to ecosystem management at a regional scale. Political, financial and technical barriers often impede this type of management, and no single agency has the mandate or the resources to focus on the entire region. In February 2001, government representatives from over 20 agencies gathered in Cranbrook, BC, to explore ecosystem-based ways of collaborating on shared issues in the transboundary Crown of the Continent. Participation included federal, aboriginal, provincial and state agencies or organizations with a significant land or resource management re-

sponsibility within the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. No attempt was made to put a firm boundary around the area of interest, but the region is generally defined by the Rocky Mountain ecoregion from the Bob Marshall wilderness complex (MT) to the Highwood River (AB) and the Elk Valley (BC). The highly successful workshop resulted in a commitment by all participants to move forward collaboratively on regional ecosystem management. A steering committee was struck, and what came to be known as the Crown Managers Partnership began a tradition of meeting annually for the Crown Managers Forum. The CMP is open to all federal, state, provincial and local public land and resource management agencies, tribes and first nations within the Crown of the Continent Region. The interagency steering committee takes its direction from the partnership through the CMP Annual Forum and implements that direction through an annual workplan. Since the conception of the CMP, the Miistakis Institute has provided the administrative needs and is known as the CMP Secretariat. CMP participants include: Waterton Lakes National Park, Glacier National Park, Blood Tribe, Alberta Community Development, Alberta Environment, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Flathead Basin Commission, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, University of Montana, University of Calgary, Blackfeet Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Flathead National Forest. The CMP’s current strategic priority is the “Managing for Ecological Health” project. The project will: define what health means in the Crown context; describe the current state of the Crown; understand the trajectories that have taken the region to this point and the likely future trajectories and their environmental implications; identify with the broader community and stakeholders the desired state for the Crown; and collaborate and adapt environmental and natural resource management to achieve the desired state. Spring 2009


The Glacier Institute T

by Joyce H. Baltz

he Glacier Institute has been providing outdoor education to youth and adults in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem for over 25 years. During that time more than 20,000 students have participated in the Glacier Institute Discovery School programs Courses are offered at the two Glacier Instituteoperated field sites—in Glacier National Park and in the Flathead National Forest—and in St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz the surrounding 10 million acre outdoor classroom. The Institute operates in ing experience that takes the classroom outside and formal partnerships with Glacier National Park, connects them directly with the Crown of the Conthe Flathead National Forest, Montana Fish, Wild- tinent ecosystem. Discovery School encourages life and Parks and the Flathead Valley Community lifelong learning in students; fosters an environCollege as well as in informal partnerships with the ment where students can build self-esteem, leadmany local school districts that participate in our ership, confidence and respect for themselves and programs. others; and creates an informal setting for students, The Glacier Institute offers many types of pro- teachers and parents to build a sense of community grams: Discovery School and Youth Science Ad- that will transfer back to the classroom. venture Camps for school-aged children at our Big Our Field Camp located just inside the West enCreek Outdoor Education Center on the Flathead trance of Glacier National Park has been home for National Forest, and Outdoor Adventure field sem- many of our adult field courses, family and custom inars for adults at our Field Camp located in Glacier programs since 1983. Emphasizing outreach and National Park. Students and teachers at Discovery field-based outdoor learning experiences, the InSchool participate in hands-on, field-based out- stitute provides an objective, science-based underdoor education programs designed for K-12 stu- standing of the area’s natural, historic and cultural dents. Teachers may choose sessions ranging from environment by offering courses addressing the one to three days. Discovery School curriculum and history, geology, flora, fauna of the Crown of the programs meet Montana State standards for math Continent. and science. Students study aquatic ecology, wildThe Glacier Institute wishes to thank its supportlife, forestry, fire ecology and many other outdoor ers, donors, volunteers and directors, past and pressubjects in the Flathead National Forest. Discovery ent, for all that they have done to sustain these proSchool offers students and teachers a unique learn- grams during our first 25 years. 112

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Science in the Crown by Paul Ollig, Glacier National Park

“The Crown of the Continent”—the name alone stirs the imagination, doesn’t it? It hints at a place of sublime beauty and incalculable worth. For Glacier National Park, this title could not be more appropriate. For nearly 100 years, the park has existed to protect the fragile resources encompassed within this vast ecosystem. Scientists have come from around the globe to study the unique features, flora and fauna of this majestic landscape. But how much of what they have learned is accessible to the millions who visit the park each year— those who come simply to admire its beauty and experience its wildness? How can they be expected to care about the research being conducted in Glacier National Park if they don’t know how to access it or are unaware that it exists? What do people want to know about the research being conducted at Glacier National Park? The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center (CCRLC) is dedicated to making this research accessible to the widest audience possible. The CCRLC helps provide access to this science through a variety of programs, including citizen science, web-based interpretation and student intern and fellowship opportunities. Imagine, for instance, paddling across a tranquil mountain lake listening for the haunting call of a loon, scanning the park’s towering cliffs for a glimpse of a mountain goat, or investigating a rocky talus slope for signs of the tiny and charismatic pika. What sounds like the adventure of a lifetime is so much more when you are a citizen scientist. Citizen-science projects utilize trained volunteers to collect scientific information that would otherwise be unavailable due to lack of personnel or funding. Through the participation of volunteer citizen scientists in research and resource management projects, park managers can continue to learn more about Glacier National Park’s fragile resources. For the citizen scientists, the reward is a sense of stew-

ardship and a greater understanding and awareness of the park’s resource issues. What about those people who never have an opportunity to visit Glacier National Park, or who don’t have the time to commit to becoming a citizen scientist? Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn about the science being conducted in the park. Who doesn’t want to watch a glacier recede and discover how climate change is impacting the park’s resources? Who wouldn’t want to listen to a bird’s call and discover how its presence maintains the fragile balance of Glacier’s ecosystem, or take a trip back in time and listen to the stories of the men and women who built the world-famous Going-tothe-Sun Road? Through the continued development of an interactive website, the CCRLC hopes to make all of this (and more) possible in the near future. This virtual Research Learning Center will make park science accessible to everyone by providing a portal for both park interpretive staff and a worldwide audience to connect not only to Glacier’s tremendous resources, but also to the current research being conducted in the park. Finally, proper management of our nation’s natural and cultural treasures requires informed and experienced resource professionals. Through fellowship programs that seek to address that need, the CCRLC promotes student research on high-priority natural and cultural resource topics. By encouraging undergraduate and graduate student participation, these fellowships help facilitate a greater understanding of critical resource issues while fostering the next generation of resource professionals. There is a tremendous amount of research that has been and is currently being conducted at Glacier National Park. The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center is the public’s conduit to exploring the fascinating discoveries being made through science and research. Spring 2009


Shaping by Matt McKinney


the Future of the Crown

he future of the Crown of the Con- College near Kalispell, Montana. The purpose tinent relies on the simple fact that of this Roundtable on the Crown of the Conover 100 government agencies, non- tinent is to share information, build relationgovernment organizations, and place-based ships, and explore opportunities to work topartnerships are working in the region. gether on issues of common concern. Each effort—whether regional (i.e., CrownAt the November meeting, participants wide) or sub-regional—came into existence agreed that the Crown is valuable for ecologibecause of a government mandate or because cal, economic, cultural, spiritual, educational, a conservation or stewardship need/oppor- recreational, and other reasons. As one of the tunity was not being most intact largeaddressed. Moreover, ..the Crown is valuable for ecological, eco- scale landscapes in each initiative continthe world, it also nomic, cultural, spiritual, education, recues to operate because serves as a unique it has mobilized the reational, and other reasons. As one of the international laboright people around a most intact large-scale landscapes in the ratory on how to compelling purpose mitigate and adapt world, it also serves as a unique internaand has found suffito the effects of clicient financial support tional laboratory on how to mitigate and mate change. to continue its work. In addition to findadapt to the effects of climate change. While the efforts of ing common ground each agency or initiative are important to con- on the values that define the Crown, the servation and stewardship in the Crown, no participants agreed on a number of issues initiative works in a vacuum—all interact with that confront the region, including the need at least some of the other initiatives. Based on to generate a sustainable economy, conserve this observation, 32 leaders from the public, wildlife corridors, and respond to fire and inprivate, and non-profit sectors met on Novem- sect threats. ber 6–7, 2008, at Flathead Valley Community The participants agreed that the best ways to 114 114

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address these issues are to continue the Roundtable; to reach out to private landowners, tribes, and local officials; and to raise awareness and understanding about the Crown through a variety of educational activities. Participants who volunteered to coordinate the next steps include Evan Berger (an elected and appointed official in Alberta); Mary Sexton (an appointed official in Montana); Rich Moy and Bill Dolan (with the Crown Manager’s Partnership); Jerry Sorenson and Racene Friede (from the business community); Lex Blood (an educator); and Katie Deuel (from the conservation community). The Roundtable is convened and staffed by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Public Policy Research Institute at The University of Montana. Participants in the Roundtable come from Alberta, British Columbia, and

Montana and include representatives of public land management agencies, conservation groups, businesses, universities, communities, and elected and appointed officials. The next meeting of the Roundtable is scheduled for mid-September 2009. In the meantime, a small delegation of participants will attend a national policy dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to explore the development of a national landscape-conservation strategy— and highlight the Crown as a case in point. Staff is also working with tribes and the business community to determine how they want to engage in the Roundtable. For more information on the Roundtable, including more than 50 GIS-based maps, go to and/or contact Matt McKinney at 406-457-8475 or matt@ Spring 2009 2009 Spring

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Contributors Gerald Fetz is a native Northwesterner, having grown up and lived in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and, since 1970, Montana. He retired in December 2008 as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Montana, where he had served as a professor (German Studies and Humanities) and administrator (Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Dean of the Davidson Honors College, in addition to CAS Dean) for 39 years. Though retired from full-time work at UM, he continues to teach part-time and is involved with two University-wide initiatives, serving as their Co-Director with Rick Graetz of the UM Crown of the Continent Initiative and the UM Press.

Jack A. Stanford is Professor of Ecology and Director of UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station and teaches field ecology courses at FLBS. He is most noted for his long-term studies of the Flathead River-Lake ecosystem in Montana and British Columbia. In 1999 Dr. Stanford began extensive work on a suite of observatory salmon rivers in Kamchatka, Argentina, Alaska, and British Columbia. In June 2004 he received the Award of Excellence of the North American Benthological Society, the leading professional society in the world concerned with river ecosystems. Jack has authored more than 150 papers and books. Dan Fagre is Research Ecologist for the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey and Director of the Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project stationed in Glacier National Park. Dr. Fagre is a faculty affiliate at the University of Montana and several other universities and has worked for the past 18 years with many staff, partners and collaborators in the Northern Rockies to understand how global-scale environmental changes will affect our mountain ecosystems. Dan is the author of more than 120 publications and has co-published three books.

Rick Graetz is a member of the University’s Geography faculty, teaching Montana and mountain-related courses, as well as Co-Director of the Crown Initiative and the UM Press. He is the founder of Montana Magazine and American Geographic Publishing. Susie Graetz is a researcher and visiting scholar in the University’s Central/Southwest Asia Program. Together the couple has authored and published numerous books and papers on Montana, regions of the USA, and titles for countries in Asia and the West Indies. They also write a syndicated newspaper column titled This Is Montana. Len Broberg combines his nine years experience in the practice of law with his training in Sarah J. Halvorson is Associate Professor and conservation biology to teach and research in Chair of the Department of Geography at The the area of biodiversity conservation and enUniversity of Montana. Her research and teach- vironmental policy/law with a focus on the ing interests are in mountain geography, water Crown of the Continent region of the US and resources, environment-society interactions, Canada. For the past ten years he has been a coand hazards research in the Northern Rockies leader of the Transboundary Planning, Policy and mountainous areas of Central Asia. She and Management Initiative with Dr. Michael also teaches courses related to the Crown of Quinn of the University of Calgary (Faculty of the Continent Environmental Design), a graduate research 116

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and education initiative spanning the borders of Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia, Canada. Len is currently Director of the Environmental Studies Program at The University of Montana. Other Contributors — Several other writers have authored pieces for this publication on behalf of their respective organizations. Rather than profile them individually here, future issues of this E Magazine and our Crown newsletters will feature profiles of these affiliates as well as other partners who are involved with work in the Crown of the Continent.

The Future — The Crown of the Continent Initiative is a work-in-progress. This, our first E Magazine, will be followed by occasional newsletters as well as the second issue, in Fall 2009. We plan to publish two issues of this electronic magazine a year as well as at least two newsletters. The first Crown symposium was sponsored by The University of Montana and Flathead Valley Community College and held in Kalispell. More will follow elsewhere in the Crown region. Classes on this eco-system are regularly taught at UM, and plans are underway are to make field courses available to the public through our affiliates. We have also begun work on an extensive book about the Crown. Our UM Crown of the Continent Website is currently “under construction,” but we hope to have it “live” sometime this summer. Stay tuned!

Bear Lake and Prarie Reef, looking across “The Bob” toward the Chinese Wall. Rick and Susie Graetz

Spring 2009


Mistakis Institute of the Rocikies


Crown of the Continent

Spring 2009


Crown of the Continent E-Magazine  
Crown of the Continent E-Magazine  

Directly north of The University of Montana lie the scenic peaks, glaciated valleys and postcard-perfect scenery that constitute the Crown o...