State Parks, Forest Service also dealing with crowds

Print Article

Hikers pose for a picture with their dogs in the Jewel Basin in this file photo.

Glacier National Park isnít the only land agency dealing with crowds. The Flathead National Forest and Montana state parks also have their fair share of visitors as well.

Montana State Parks had 2.7 million visitors across its 54 units statewide Dave Landstrom, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks manager for Region 1 said last week.

ďThat represents a 28 percent increase,Ē over the previous year, Landstrom noted at a talk with Glacier Park superintendent Jeff Mow and Forest Supervisor Chip Weber last week at Flathead Valley Community Collage.

In Region 1, there are 14 state parks that see about 700,000 visitors annually.

The state parks have a lot in common with Glacier. Like Glacier, Landstrom said they, too, have had to shut gates when popular places get overcrowded. In fact, thatís where Glacier got the idea from, said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow.

Last year, Glacier closed gates at popular Park destinations on numerous occasions. Logan Pass, for example, had parking restrictions a whopping 53 days last summer. Bowman Lake also had 53 days of restrictions. Kintla Lake had 31.

Both lakes have miles of rough, dirt, roads to get there ó but it doesnít seem to be detracting visitors at all.

Landstrom noted that some parks in its system are definitely more busy than others. Parks around Flathead Lake fill up fast, but the Thompson Chain of Lakes has about 100 campsites in its system, and often has open spaces, as does Lake Mary Ronan.

Thereís not much the state can do to ease crowding in Glacier, but state parks could help extend a travelerís vacation a day or two.

The state also has 400 fishing access sites that draw a host of uses ó most of which have nothing to do with angling. In addition, the Whitefish Trail, which runs through 13,000 acres of state lands is also becoming a destination with its 42 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails.

The Flathead National Forest also saw about 1 million visitors last year, Weber said, but about 400,000 of those were to Big Mountain, he noted.

Other parts of the Forest are far quieter. He noted that visitation to the world-class Bob Marshall Wilderness has been pretty stable over the years. The growth in the Flathead is places where people can get out and hike for one or two days.

He said the Forest, in the coming years, will work with user groups to create more trails closer to population centers.

He said the Forest is also looking at a permitted livery service, which could make backcountry travel easier for users. In addition, the Forest Service is considering allowing permits for a hut system on parts of the Forest that would allow travelers to hike from hut to hut.

Visitors may soon have a one-stop portal on the web to see all the available campsites and trails in a given area. Rec.gov, which isnít online yet, is in the works, and would include a host of outdoor recreation resources.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

State wants a minimum of 800 grizzly bears in the region

August 15, 2018 at 7:57 am | Hungry Horse News The Montana Fish and Wildlife commissioners last week adopted a preliminary conservation plan for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem that looks at maintaining a population of ...

Comments

Read More

Frogs, birds and bats on tap

August 08, 2018 at 8:46 am | Hungry Horse News Bird stroll Join Flathead Audubon and retired Biology Professor Jeanette Oliver 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 11 for an information-packed stroll in the portion of the Owen Sowerine Natural Area on Leisure Is...

Comments

Read More

Lake whitefish are biting on Flathead

August 08, 2018 at 8:38 am | Hungry Horse News Having grown up in the Midwest, Iím quite familiar with the question: ďWhat do you call a dozen tractors in front of an Iowa high school?Ē Answer: Prom. So hereís a question for Flathead Valley ...

Comments

Read More

Hensler new FWP Region 1 fisheries manager

July 25, 2018 at 8:11 am | Hungry Horse News By SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER For the Hungry Horse News Mike Hensler, a longtime fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is the new regional fisheries manager in Northwest Montana. Hen...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2018 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X