Monday Reads: The Glacier National Park Edition

One hundred years of national park goodness

This page was published 14 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

Happy Birthday, Glacier National Park!

Okay, so we’re a few months early…but when you’re coming up on one hundred, you clearly deserve a more grandiose and extended celebration.

The birthday star is one half of the dynamic duo making up Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. North of Glacier National Park lies its companion, Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Together, these parks represent a corridor of nearly unparalleled pristine wilderness, where almost all of the historical flora and fauna still exist.

In honor of Glacier’s centennial, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson set about to photograph the park for a hundred consecutive days. The results are nothing short of thrilling. Chris’s images and insightful commentary bring alive the beauty, diversity, and wonder of this amazing place.

A sampling of Chris’s work:

(All commentary is by Mr. Peterson, except for the aside on Earthjustice’s pika work.)

Day 76, Panorama: Bighorn sheep, Haystack Butte. What can you say? I think I got everything I could have asked for in this picture. Rams herd up into bachelor groups in the summertime. While they’re famous for knocking heads in the fall during the rut, they knock heads frequently in the summer as well. They’re always jockeying for rank. (© Chris Peterson)

Day 92, Pikas: […] the Park’s pika population is robust. Other populations in the Great Basin have gone extinct. This one was maybe four-five weeks old. It’s the smallest pika I’ve ever photographed. When I first saw it, I thought it was a mouse. Here, it feeds on Penstemon. It reached out as far as it could to feed. It didn’t want to fall into the bush (it did once and leapt out, very upset.) (© Chris Peterson) [Read more about Earthjustice’s work on pikas.]

Day 93, The wolf: Did a 10-mile hike in the North Fork and on the way out just before dark I was watching a woodpecker when I heard some breathing (that’s right breathing, like heavy breath) in the woods below me and some twigs breaking. Then I saw a wolf and then another wolf began barking at me. Just like the neighbor’s dog. It was pretty cool. (© Chris Peterson)

Day 94, Preston Park (© Chris Peterson)

Day 58, Meet the vireos: Warbling vireos make an elegant pouch nest. The male and female tend to the young, both will take turns sitting on the nest. Here, the male (presumably, since they’re nearly impossible to tell apart) gives the female a little love bite. (© Chris Peterson)

Visit Glacier Park Magazine’s website to see all 100 days and find out more information about this project. You won’t be disappointed.

Gray wolves, grizzly bears, moose, hundreds of species of birds, over a thousand species of plants, and much, much more, migrate through or live out their whole lives in Glacier. The Peace Park in its entirety has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and as a UN World Heritage Site.

Which makes it all the more distressing that drilling and mountaintop removal mining operations are planned for the headwaters of Flathead River, which flows adjacent to the Peace Park. The development would set off a domino effect of increasing devastation: seasonal migrations would be disrupted; service lines, power lines and flaring stations would crowd the landscape; an annual 16 million tons of contaminated rock and earth would pollute waterways, impacting everything downstream (including Glacier National Park); and more.

Fortunately, this isn’t something that people like you will stand for. Last June, more than 13,000 Earthjustice members responded to a call for action, telling U.S. and Canadian decision makers that mining and gas drilling do not belong upstream of Peace Park, and asking them to work on long-term solutions to protect these wilderness areas.

Thanks to all of you who took action, the Earthjustice attorneys and clients who worked so hard on this issue, and many other committed individuals working on behalf of the parks, last week a UN committee recommended a moratorium on mining and oil and gas development. The fight isn’t over yet, but this is a good step forward. Stay tuned to Earthjustice for more news on protecting the future of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

If you’ve exhausted the 100 Days feature and are looking for more, head over to Glacier Park Magazine‘s blog, which includes many gems on life in this wilderness, including an account on the Many Glacier area:

One ewe in particular has a lamb that jumps on her back, bites her horn and prods her on. It’s getting dark, mom, time to go up higher on the slope, the lamb says. And then you see the tragedy in it. The mother has a badly broken leg, but somehow has been able to forge on, raise a kid, despite the odds against her. Life persists here, in this raw and nasty and beautiful and forgiving place. Soak up the sun while you can. The wind is coming. Change is a breeze away.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Peace Park, drop us a line and share your stories in the comments section below.


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Shirley undertakes sous chef duties on Earthjustice’s website, serving up interactive online features for our advocacy campaign and litigation work.

Established in 1993, Earthjustice's Northern Rockies Office, located in Bozeman, Mont., protects the region's irreplaceable natural resources by safeguarding sensitive wildlife species and their habitats and challenging harmful coal and industrial gas developments.