Friday, December 28, 2018

U.S. Forest Service reflects on past year’s progress

In the past fiscal year, the USDA Forest Service responded to natural disasters and battled through one of the most destructive fire seasons on record. Throughout these challenges, the Forest Service also actively treated forests to improve conditions, increase timber production, and enhance rural prosperity—all while putting customer service first.

“With the commitment and strength of our employees and partners the Forest Service continued to improve conditions across the forested landscapes this last year,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “This included active management, and increasing services and production to create jobs and support economies for rural America. We also focused on being good neighbors in communities and states, and consistently offering exceptional service and experiences for all uses of public lands. At the same time, we moved forward in in our commitment to transforming the culture to create a workplace that helps all employees do their part to deliver our mission to the American people.”

Improving Forests

In the past year, the Forest Service treated more than 3.5 million acres reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health through prescribed fire and timber sales; the latter totaling 3.2 billion board feet. The Forest Service treated an additional 2.5 million acres improving watershed conditions, ecosystems, and infrastructure, as well as providing clean water for millions of Americans.

The agency increased use of 2014 Farm Bill authorities, including 166 Good Neighbor agreements and stewardship contracts. Together, these efforts strengthened collaborative work with states and partners, improved forest conditions, protected communities, and supported as many as 370,000 jobs.

Shared Stewardship

The Forest Service prioritized working with customers, partners, and communities to achieve shared goals. In August, Secretary Perdue publicly unveiled the USDA Forest Service report on Shared Stewardship—a new approach to active forest management. This approach will help reshape the agency’s work as good neighbors and will build stronger relationships with states, partners, tribes, and communities to improve forest conditions. The Western Governors Association embraced USDA’s commitment and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Secretary Perdue. The MOU commits the USFS and WGA to a more integrated approach to prioritizing investments where they will have the greatest impact and will work together to set priorities that address risk across broad landscapes.

Another component of shared stewardship is developing the next generation of land stewards to manage and protect national forests. Over the past several years, the Forest Service worked on outreach and education for young people through programs such as Every Kid in a Park. This program leveraged nearly $7 million in private and nonprofit contributions to get fourth-graders into the great outdoors this year.

Fire Funding Fix

Last March, Congress passed historic legislation that significantly reduces the need to transfer funds from much needed management work to pay for firefighting costs, which exceeded $2 billion this year. This new law expanded authorities that the Forest Service can use to improve forest conditions and reduce wildfire risk. When the new funding fix takes effect in Fiscal Year 2020, the Forest Service budget will become more stable, freeing up funds to help accomplish critical on-the-ground work to increase forest health and resilience, as well as protect lives, communities and resources.

Improving Customer Service

The Forest Service took definitive steps to improve customer experience by modernizing our systems and employing new technology. The special use permit process was expedited, reducing the permit backlog by half. The Forest Service removed unnecessary barriers to minerals development and energy production, helping to promote energy independence, create jobs, and support rural economies. Access was also expanded through investments in infrastructure, facilities, and rural broadband.

As well, the agency made improvements to recreation opportunities, including protecting and improving access for hunting, fishing, hiking, motorized recreation, and more. The Forest Service developed fee offset projects to promote campground concessionaire facility improvements and worked with six other agencies to develop a one-stop reservation and trip-planning website to be launched in 2019.

Transforming the Culture

The Forest Service moved to permanently transform its work environment to ensure everyone is respected and included by implementing a new Code of Conduct that includes zero-tolerance for harassment, retaliation, and misconduct. Agency leadership also created a new performance requirement on work environment that has raised accountability for all supervisors, and established a new anti-harassment call center.

“We started by implementing a 30-day “Standing Up for Each Other” action strategy that requires every employee to be held accountable to the new code of conduct,” said Christiansen. “We are changing policies to further prevent harassment and retaliation, and we’re building skills within the workforce so employees prevent, recognize and intervene in inappropriate conduct and retaliation.”

Regulatory Reform

The Forest Service revised policies and streamlined processes to create efficiencies in environmental analysis, forest products delivery, energy development, and wildland fire management. Improvements in environmental analysis and decision making cut costs by $30 million, and reduced analysis time by 10 percent. The Forest Service worked with sister agencies to update policies and processes for more efficient application and implementation of mineral extraction and energy production projects. The agency also reformed wildland fire systems to better allocate resources based on risk and lower costs while continuing to protect lives, property, and resources

For more information about the U.S. Forest Service visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Montana to appeal Yellowstone grizzly decision - looks to broader effort

Last week the state of Montana filed a notice of appeal of the September decision by the federal district court in Missoula to re-instate endangered species protection to grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“Grizzly bear recovery and conservation is an amazing success story that’s taken decades of hard work and dedication. The science is clear that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are recovered,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams.

Montana joins the states of Idaho and Wyoming, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in appealing the court’s decision.

“With grizzly bear recovery goals met in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the safeguards in place to ensure healthy populations will persist, it’s time to hand over management to the states,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

In Montana, grizzly bears are expanding from beyond the core areas where they’ve met population recovery goals – the GYE and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. They are showing up in places they haven’t been for decades, like the prairie east of the Rocky Mountain Front, parts of western Montana and areas northeast of Yellowstone National Park.

The grizzly bears numbers in these recolonized areas are increasing, and while the appeal Montana is filing today will only address the GYE, it’s clear more needs to be done to look comprehensively at grizzly bear management across Montana.

“For long-term success, grizzly bear management in Montana must consider the needs of our communities and people along with those of the bear,” Williams said. “As this appeal proceeds, Montana will focus on our responsibilities for management by convening the diverse interests of our citizens to identify strategies that address emerging and future needs for bear recovery and conflict management.”

Historically, the approach to delisting has been to focus on just the NCDE and GYE. While that has been successful for grizzly bear recovery, it creates challenges for bear management. Grizzly bears are spilling out of the NCDE and GYE and showing up in communities surrounding these ecosystems where they haven’t been for decades and where people aren’t prepared for them.

Montana is home to two other recovery zones, the Selway Bitterroot and Cabinet-Yaak. Neither has met recovery goals. Between the four recovery zones, bears are expanding into landscapes that aren’t covered under an existing management plan. To address this, Montana needs a more comprehensive look.

“Montana has long been a leader in conservation and now we have a unique opportunity to forge a path forward for these iconic animals that incorporates the diverse values of our citizens as part of a solution,” Bullock said. “Ultimately a comprehensive and collaborative approach to bear management across the state is the best path toward a durable delisting rule and balancing the needs and goals of our state’s citizens.”

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Government Shutdown in Glacier National Park

According to the park website, "Glacier will remain open during the government shutdown, however park facilities, visitor centers, and restroom facilities will be closed. Roads will receive only minimal plowing as needed. Conditions are subject to change."

On the park Facebook page, officials stated that, "During the federal government shutdown, we will not monitor or update social media. Some areas of Glacier National Park are accessible; however access may change without notice, and there are no NPS-provided services."

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Government Shutdown at Grand Teton

In response to the lapse in federal appropriations, Grand Teton National Park is implementing its plan for a government shutdown. Government-operated facilities in the park will be closed. Visitors will be able to access the park, though no visitor services will be available.

Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “Visitors will be able to access Grand Teton National Park, but should plan ahead and use caution as park staff will not be available to provide guidance or assistance. If visitors see something that jeopardizes visitor safety or park resources, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301.”

Grand Teton National Park’s shutdown plan includes:

• Park roads will remain open if they are essential to respond to emergencies—this includes most roads that are normally maintained and open at this time of year. Access to all residences will be maintained.
• Emergency response may be delayed.
• Entrance stations will not be staffed.
• Grooming of the Teton Park Road will continue through a partnership agreement with Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Grooming is scheduled to occur twice a week.
• Teton Interagency Dispatch Center will be available during normal winter hours—6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Emergency 911 calls will be answered by Teton County Dispatch 24 hours/day.
• Park website and social media sites will not be maintained.
• Concessioners and Commercial Use Authorization holders may continue to provide visitor services after coordination with the park to ensure compliance with government shutdown protocols.
• Access to Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance will continue, including staging and winter services available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch in John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Make a Resolution to Health with a First Day Hike - January 1, 2019

Make a New Year’s resolution to health and happiness by kicking off 2019 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. On January 1, Montana State Parks will host First Day Hikes at Makoshika State Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Flathead Lake State Park-Wayfarers, Lone Pine State Park, Travelers’ Rest State Park, and Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. These fun and informative guided-hikes are open to all ages and are family friendly.

Montana State Parks First Day Hikes are available at:

Flathead Lake State Park-Wayfarers – 10am (Bigfork)
Meet at the Flathead Lake Ranger Station and enjoy a 1 to 2-mile, moderate hike around the park. Children should be prepared for hiking uphill. Participants will have the opportunity to catch their breath and enjoy beautiful scenic vistas with a few short stops along the way. Dogs on leashes are welcome. For more information call (406) 837-3041.

Lone Pine State Park – 5pm to 7pm (Kalispell)
Enjoy a moderate, 1.75-mile guided hike through the park or take a short, self-guided hike to the overlook at night to enjoy the city lights. Hikes begin and end at the picnic shelter with a bright campfire and warm drinks. Snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Headlamps or flashlights are recommended. Dogs welcome on leash. To register, please call (406) 755-2706 ext. 2.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park – 11am (Whitehall)
Join park guide Audrey Howard for a moderate, 3 to 4-mile hike into the parts of the park that most visitors miss. The hike will meet at the park’s main visitor center near the park entrance. For more information, contact (406) 287-3541.

Makoshika State Park – 11am (Glendive)
Meet at the visitor center for this easy 1-mile hike to introduce participants to Makoshika’s badland topography. Refreshments provided following the hike. No dogs please. For more information, contact (406) 377-6256. Spring Meadow Lake State Park – 12pm (Helena) Join park staff for an easy 1-mile, informative hike around Spring Meadow Lake. Hot cocoa and cookies will be provided following the hike. No dogs, please. For more information, call (406) 495-3270.

Travelers’ Rest State Park – 11am (Lolo/Missoula)
Walk into history as you loop through the historic Travelers’ Rest campsite on this 1-mile, easy hike. Look out for winter birds and wildlife such as American Dippers, Belted Kingfishers, Black-billed Magpies, red fox, and whitetail and mule deer. Explore the rich riparian area along Lolo Creek, ending back at the visitor center for hot chocolate and a winter ecology game. No dogs, please. For more information, call (406) 273-4253.

Hikers should wear weather-appropriate clothing, bring a water bottle and ice cleats or snowshoes if the trail conditions are snowy or icy. First Day Hike participants are encouraged to share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes. For more information on these or other Montana state parks, visit:,gov.

"First Day Hikes" is an annual, nationwide special event co-sponsored by America's State Parks which originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 33,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 70,500 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country. All 50 states will be participating in the seventh annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with guided outdoor exploration.

Visit Montana State Parks ( and enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 17, 2018

Who Conceived The Concept of "National Parks"?

Though it's a well-known fact that Yellowstone was set aside as the world's first national park in 1872, who conceived the idea that tracts of land should be set aside for the general public? Yellowstone's establishment as a national park can be traced back to President Abraham Lincoln when he signed a bill granting the Yosemite Valley and the “Mariposa Big Tree Grove” to the state of California, “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation” in perpetuity. Although this legislation was a precursor to the concept of national parks, the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864 wasn't a new idea. Henry David Thoreau made calls for the preservation of wilderness at least a decade earlier. In his essay, Walking, he made a plea for preserving the West before it would inevitably be exploited and despoiled by human migration, asserting that “The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.” In The Maine Woods he called for the establishment of national preserves, asking, “Why should not we…..have our national preserves…..not for idle sport or food, but for inspiration and our own true re-creation?"

However, even Thoreau's call for a national preserve wasn't an original idea. The joint publication of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798 is widely recognized as the birth of Romanticism in English literature. In addition to being close friends, both poets held nature in high regard, and both enjoyed exploring the Lake District, a mountainous region in northwestern England. During his early adult years Wordsworth in particular spent many of his holiday vacations on walking tours, several of which included extended tours of the Lake District. In 1810 he published A Guide through the District of the Lakes, which likely contains the world’s first written call for a national park. In the conclusion of the book Wordsworth argued that the Lake District should be considered “a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.”

If you would like to learn more about how preservationists impacted the sport of hiking, my new book explains the crucial roles played by Wordsworth, Thoreau, Muir, Roosevelt and others. Ramble On: A History of Hiking is now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Glacier National Park Publishes "Story Map" of Sprague Fire

Earlier this week Glacier National Park published a "story map" of the Sprague Fire of 2017. Here's the announcement of this new multimedia product from the park's Facebook page:
A new story map explores the conditions leading up to the Sprague Fire and the actions taken to suppress it. The Sprague Fire Story Map details the efforts made to protect the five structures in the Sperry Chalet complex and the path taken after the fire’s end to restore the destroyed Sperry Chalet Dormitory. This restoration story is still to be written, but thanks to the Glacier National Park Conservancy and the many partners and individual supporters, the reconstruction of the Sperry Chalet is expected to be completed by December 2019.
The multimedia product provides a detailed account of the fire and includes some amazing photos. As you scroll through the presentation there will be an aerial view of the chalet after it burned - note all the live trees surrounding the chalet. Did a blowing ember make its way into the building? To view the story map, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, December 14, 2018

Appalachian Mountain Club Reviews "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Earlier this week the Appalachian Mountain Club published a review of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. I want to sincerely thank Priscilla Estes for publishing a glowing and gracious review of the book in the latest edition of Appalachian Footnotes, the quarterly magazine of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Ms. Estes concluded her fairly extensive review by stating: "Doran’s book is a treasure: a well-written, entertaining, knowledgeable, and exactingly researched book on the roots of hiking and hiking clubs, the history of trail-making, the evolution of hiking gear and clothing, and the future of hiking on overcrowded trails. Doran weaves the social, cultural, industrial, and political milieu into this fascinating history. Amusing, astonishing, and sometimes alarming anecdotes, along with photos, footnotes, and an extensive bibliography, make this a fascinating and significant account of the history of hiking."

To read the entire review (on page 6), please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who Established The World's First Hiking Club?

Most writers and historians have credited the Alpine Club of London as being the first mountaineering or “walking club” in the world, and the Alpine Club of Williamstown as being the first hiking club in America. The Alpine Club of London was formed in 1857, during the "Golden Age of Alpinism", for accomplished mountaineers who had successfully climbed a mountain higher than 13,000 feet. Six years later the Alpine Club of Williamstown was founded by Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College in Massachusetts. Although not widely known, or even properly recognized, the Exploring Circle preceded both of those clubs by several years. The Exploring Circle was founded by Cyrus M. Tracey and three other men from Lynn, Massachusetts in 1850 in order to advance their knowledge of the natural sciences. Although it continued as a very small club, it remained active for more than 30 years. If you would like to learn more about the formation and the significant contributions of these clubs, and many other hiking clubs that formed between the Civil War and World War I, you can read about them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Something To Remember: N.E.A.R

You've probably heard dozens of times the old adage that you should remain in place if you were ever to become lost or injured in the wilderness. But does this advice makes sense in every situation? Last week I was watching SOS: How to Survive on the Weather Channel. The host, Creek Stewart, introduced a "test" to determine whether you should remain in place, or take steps to self-evacuate. The "test" asks three simple questions. The answer to these questions could save your life one day:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Steamboat Geyser erupts and breaks all-time record

Steamboat Geyser erupted at about 1:07 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, 2018, and set a new record. This eruption, the 30th since March 15, 2018, surpasses the previous all-time record of 29 documented eruptions set in 1964.

During major eruptions Steamboat Geyser shoots water more than 300 feet into the air.

“The heightened activity at Steamboat this year is uncommon but not unprecedented. We have seen similar activity twice previously; once in the early 1960s, and again in the early 1980s. Conversely, the world’s tallest active geyser has also exhibited years of quiescence or no major eruptions, with the longest being the 50-year period between 1911 and 1961,” said Jeff Hungerford, Yellowstone’s park geologist. “We’ll continue to monitor this extraordinary geyser.”

More information about the geyser can be found at Steamboat Geyser. No photos or video of the December 8th eruption are available, but here is an earlier video:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Who Made The First Hike in Recorded History?

Undoubtedly there are scores of unknown people throughout the ages that have walked for pleasure or sport. Although the record is sparse, there are a few examples of individuals who took to the woods and mountains prior to the modern era. In all likelihood, the oldest recorded hike for pleasure was taken during the second century when the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, ascended Mount Etna on the island of Sicily for the simple pleasure of seeing the sunrise from its summit. Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire from 117 to 138 CE, and was considered to be one of the “Five Good Emperors.” During his reign Hadrian travelled to nearly every corner of his sprawling empire. During a return trip from Greece in 125 Hadrian made an apparent impromptu detour to Sicily to make his ascent of the 10,922-foot mountain, which is still among the most active volcanoes in the world.

It would be several centuries before another hike for pleasure was recorded in the annals of history. One reason for this extended gap is that people simply didn't have a need to record their simple acts of walking. More importantly, however, mountains were seen as dangerous and mysterious by most Western cultures prior to the fifteenth-century. People from the Middle Ages widely regarded mountains with fear, awe and disgust. Some men even swore affidavits before magistrates that they saw dragons in the mountains. It wasn't until the Renaissance era that fear of mountains began to slowly subside, and men began venturing into the highlands. If you would like to learn more about the early years of hiking, as well as many other stories associated with the history of hiking as it progressed to become one of the world's most popular activities, you can read them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 10, 2018

Flathead Avalanche Center to Begin Seasonal Daily Forecasts

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will begin issuing daily avalanche forecasts on Sunday, December 9, 2018. The center, operating under the Flathead National Forest, provides avalanche danger ratings and travel advice for the Whitefish Range, Swan Range, Flathead Range, and Glacier National Park.

“It has been a slow start to winter thus far,” said FAC Director Zach Guy “but it looks like we will be returning to an active and snowy weather pattern next week. Unfortunately, the dry weather and thin snowpack we have right now is a recipe for avalanche problems in the future. Under dry conditions like we have had, the snow coverage quickly evolves into a fragile layer that can plague the snowpack for weeks or months. That’s what we are seeing in the backcountry right now. It’s not a problem at the moment, but once winter storms start adding weight on top of these layers, we expect dangerous avalanche conditions to develop.” Anyone recreating in the backcountry this winter can access current avalanche conditions and observations at The FAC also offers a variety of avalanche courses and awareness talks.

The Flathead Avalanche Center continues to evolve to meet increasing needs of winter recreation. “We are increasing our field presence to provide more accurate and useful products,” said Guy. “Our staff is doing a great job of capturing avalanche conditions using photos and video and turning their observations into teachable moments and useful travel advice. You can still have a ton of fun in the backcountry when conditions are dangerous, it’s all about choosing the right terrain for the right conditions. We illustrate that through our forecasts, social media products, and field observations.”

The center recently hired Blase Reardon as the lead forecaster. Reardon has a wealth of forecasting experience, most recently from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center based out of Aspen, Colorado. His roots snow science roots stem from NW Montana, where he used to forecast for the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. Blase will be rounding out the forecasting staff alongside Zach Guy, Mark Dundas, and Clancy Nelson. Dundas is in his fourth season with the FAC, and Nelson is a new addition, coming from the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What Was The Firefall Tradition in Yosemite?

In 1871 James McCauley began construction on the Four Mile Trail, a precipitous footpath that still carries hikers from the Yosemite Valley floor to Glacier Point, while gaining more than 3200 feet along the way. McCauley, who was closely associated with the Mountain House, a hotel built atop Glacier Point in 1873, is most famous for initiating the “firefall” tradition, which lasted almost one hundred years.

Although there’s some dispute as to why, when and who originated the firefall, McCauley is generally recognized as being the first person to shove fire over the cliff at Glacier Point, likely in 1871 or 1872. During the first several decades the ritual was conducted on an irregular basis, but by the 1920s it had become a nightly feature during the summer months. According to the June 1934 edition of Yosemite Nature Notes, workers gathered red fir bark from fallen trees during the day, sometimes accumulating as much as a quarter of a cord of wood. Around 7:00 p.m. a bonfire was lit, and then at roughly 9:00 p.m., after the pile had been reduced to a mound of red hot coals, the fire tender would slowly shove the glowing embers over the side of the cliff, thus giving the appearance to everyone in the valley below that a solid stream of fire was falling from the precipice. My new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, chronicles some of the other pyro rituals surrounding the "firefall" tradition, as well as the ironic fate of the Mountain House.

And yes, the 1970s soft-rock band is named after the ritual. Ramble On is now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Public Comments Encouraged for Mountain Goat Plan

The National Park Service is encouraging public comment on a proposal to remove nonnative mountain goats from Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This proposal is to aid in the conservation of a native population of bighorn sheep and protect other park resources and values from the rapidly growing nonnative mountain goat population.

The Mountain Goat Management Plan and Environmental Assessment is available for public review and public comments should be submitted to the park by January 6. The park is hosting a public open house on Wednesday, December 12 at The Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hotel is located at 50 North Glenwood Street. The public is encouraged to visit anytime during the open house to speak with park representatives.

Currently the nonnative mountain goat population within the park is estimated at approximately 100 animals. Resident mountain goats within the park are likely from a population that was introduced outside the park southwest of the Teton Range in the late 1960s and early 1970s. First observed in the Teton Range in 1979, they have now established a breeding population that is growing rapidly.

The Teton Range within the park is also home to a small herd of approximately 80 native bighorn sheep. Prior to 2015, the population was estimated to be approximately 100-125 sheep. This herd is one of the smallest and most isolated in Wyoming, and has never been extirpated or augmented. The Teton Range herd of native bighorn sheep is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors.

Research indicates that the potential for resource competition and disease transmission between mountain goats and bighorn sheep is evident, and expected to increase. Bighorn sheep are highly susceptible to pathogens and disease transmission. Without active management, the mountain goat population is expected to continue to grow and expand its distribution within the park, threatening the existence of the native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd.

The National Park Service has a responsibility to maintain the ecological role of native species and reduce the potential for local extinction of a species. Management policies call for managing, when feasible, nonnative or “exotic” species that could have a substantial impact on park resources.

Park staff believe action is needed soon because the mountain goat population in the park is currently at a size where complete removal is achievable in a short timeframe. The estimated growth rate of the population of goats in the park suggests that complete removal in the near future may become unattainable after about three years.

Three alternatives to respond to the situation have been identified in the environmental assessment; 1) no action, 2) lethal and nonlethal removal of nonnative mountain goats, and 3) lethal removal of nonnative mountain goats.

The preferred alternative at this time is to use a combination of capture and translocation, and lethal removal methods to remove the mountain goat population in the park. The goal would be to remove the mountain goat population as quickly as possible to minimize impacts to native species, ecological communities and visitors. Goats could be translocated to suitable locations where they are native, or to accredited zoos, or lethally removed. Based on current estimates of mountain goat numbers, significantly reducing or eliminating the population is achievable in the next few years.

For more additional information, review the Mountain Goat Management Plan and Environmental Assessment and to provide comment visit Comments should be submitted to the park by January 6.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Why Were Locomotive Bells Placed Atop Mountain Passes in Glacier National Park?

Did you know that locomotive bells were once placed atop four mountain passes in Glacier National Park? Why were they placed there, who pushed the idea, and what became of them?

To further enhance the Swiss experience for park visitors, W. R. Mills, an advertising agent for the Great Northern Railway, and H. A. Noble, manager of the Glacier Park Hotel Company, requested permission from the park in 1925 to place locomotive bells atop the summits of several passes. According to Donald H. Robinson's administrative history of Glacier National Park, the request originated from on an old Swiss custom of placing bells on mountain tops and passes so that hikers and horseback riders could ring loud bells in the mountains, and signal people in the valleys that they had reached their destination. In September of 1926 the request was finally approved to place bells at Swiftcurrent Pass, Siyeh Pass and Piegan Pass. Three years later a fourth bell was added at Scenic Point in Two Medicine. Visitors continued ringing the bells until the fall of 1943, at which point they were removed by the hotel company and donated to a World War II scrap metal drive.

Although the bells were removed, and most of the backcountry chalets were razed or destroyed, much of the Great Northern Railway network still remains. In addition to most of the trails, the Belton Chalet, Glacier Park Hotel, Many Glacier Hotel, Sperry Chalet and the Granite Park Chalets are all still used by park visitors today.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating time period during the early years of Glacier National Park, as well as many other stories associated with the history of hiking, you can find them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Donate to the Sperry Action Fund to Rebuild Sperry Chalet

During this season of giving, I thought I would remind all Glacier Park enthusiasts that the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park, is still trying to raise funds to rebuild the historic Sperry Chalet, which was lost during the August 2017 Sprague Fire. Though the park is moving forward with the rebuilding of the chalet, they still need funds to complete the multi-year project. To date, the Sperry Action Fund has collected roughly 77% of the $618,148 goal. For more information, and to donate, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking