Saturday, September 18, 2021

The boomerang effect

| June 2, 2021 6:45 AM

As a resident of the North Fork of the Fathead River Valley, I am calling to your attention a serious problem created by a recent, misguided policy of Glacier Park management.

As you know, due to the massive traffic problems the Park has experienced in recent years, Park management is implementing a reservation system at West Glacier and Fish Creek entrance stations. Well and good. However, management has exempted visitors entering at Polebridge entrance station from needing a reservation. Polebridge, thereby, becomes the only entrance on the west side of the Park not requiring a reservation.

This naturally “incentivizes” visitors unable to get a reservation to enter at Polebridge. This policy was adopted without public consultation or opportunity for comment.

The reservation system recently set up has been overwhelmed with reservation requests; ten thousand requests were received in the first hour of operation when only five thousand reservations were available, which portends the massive volume of visitors who will be unable to enter at West Glacier or Fish Creek. Situationally unaware, many of these visitors will drive up the two-lane dirt road to Polebridge, thinking they can enter the Park and drive Sun Road. They will be disappointed; the only attractions accessible through Polebridge are Kintla and Bowman Lakes with fewer than 200 parking spots combined. Last year visitors were turned back at Polebridge almost as soon as the entrance opened because of overcrowding. Unless the Park’s decision to exempt Polebridge from the reservation system is reversed, massive problems will ensue this summer, not least of which is the problem of getting people out and firefighters in should there be a wildfire.

I ask that you do whatever you can to get the Park to reverse its policy and include the Polebridge entry station in the reservation system.

Donald Sullivan


CC: Sen. Jon Tester