Keep a portion of Glacier National Park’s Inside Road closed

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A pair of chipmunks meet in the closed section of the Inside Road in the summer of 2016.

There has been some debate about whether to reopen the Inside North Fork Road in Glacier National Park from Camas Creek to Logging Creek.

That section of road has been closed for a few years now, mainly because Logging Creek and Anaconda Creek have both braided in their channels and, as a result, have damaged the road.

So that section of road has become a defacto trail, one of the few in Glacier that actually allows bicycles (the other is the old Flathead Ranger Station trail).

I’ll be the first to admit that driving the Inside Road is one of my favorite drives in all of the Park. I’ll also be the first to advocate that the Inside Road never be reopened to vehicles from Camas to Logging creeks.

My reasons are many. For one, to “fix” the road it will likely have to be re-routed and that re-route will likely take it straight through one of the finest groves of old-growth Ponderosa pines in all of Glacier National Park.

The current path of the road winds along the edge of the trees, but a re-route at Anaconda Creek would mean it goes up and over the hill, which will run the road right through the grove, rather than around it as the road is now.

Last I checked, the Park Service was supposed to be about preserving unique habitats, not razing them.

In addition, Glacier needs to take a long, hard, look at its heritage, and what it plans to celebrate in its next 100 years. In the first 100 years, the white man roaded every single major drainage in the Park and changed nearly all the names of the peaks and other major features.

For example, we have a Logging Lake in Glacier. Really? Its Native American name is the far more apt “Big Beaver” Lake. Yet the Park Service has done nothing to right this wrong, or the many other examples of white man names being where they don’t belong.

It’s time to celebrate, or at the very least recognize, the significant Native American culture in Glacier, and that includes the North Fork.

The Kootenai traveled across the North Fork to hunting grounds east of the Divide by foot on ancient trails to hunt bison. They didn’t get there by SUV.

Lastly, Glacier does have a history of closing roads. There used to be a road into Howe Lake. There used to be a road into the Belly River. There used to be a road to Red Eagle Lake.

They have all been abandoned and today they’re trails.

It’s time to give the North Fork just a little bit of a break from the millions of visitors to Glacier. Let’s keep a chunk of the North Fork just a little bit primitive. It deserves it, and future generations will thank us for it.

Chis Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News.

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