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Dismayed about Sun Road plan

| May 3, 2021 12:05 AM

As a long-time landowner in the North Fork, I am dismayed by Glacier National Park’s recent announcement to require ticketed entry at the Camas Entry into the Park. The information presented by Superintendent Mow at the North Fork Interlocal in February focused on the West Glacier and East Glacier Entrances and the Sun Road Corridor. All the news articles I read focused on the West Glacier and East Glacier Entrances. Then, when the announcement hit the Park’s website and Facebook page recently, the Camas Entrance was added. This seems last minute and in fact “hidden” from public comment that would have helped to inform the decision.

North Forkers use the Camas Road regularly – to head up the North Fork when the County Road is rough and the line is short at West Glacier; but more importantly to return to town to avoid the heavy traffic and rough road on the lower North Fork Road. Everyone I know has the Lifetime Pass, so it isn’t as if we are skating on the Entrance Fees.

I know the Park needs to do something about the congestion on the Sun Road Corridor, but I thought that would be targeted at the Sun Road above the foot of Lake McDonald. Blocking off the entire Apgar area, Lake McDonald Lodge, and the entire Camas Road and the associated hiking opportunities seems to be a very bureaucratic

response. What I object to most is that the Park did not share this plan to close the extensive area accessed by the Camas Road, and further restrict access by North Forkers through the Park to town.

A byproduct of the entrance restrictions will be more tourist traffic funneled into the North Fork.

In the past, that traffic would flow through Camas, up the North Fork, and back into the Park at Polebridge. They can still do that, but will be forced onto the lower North Fork Road, adding to the traffic congestion. It seems to us that the Park is dumping their visitors into the North Fork with no consideration for their neighbors across the river.

I ask the Park to reconsider their ticketed entry for the Camas Road. To effectively mitigate the crowded conditions on the Sun Road, they could set up their Entrance Ticket processing booth at either the foot of Lake McDonald where the access road from Apgar Campground joins the Sun Road, or better yet, the Lake McDonald Lodge access.

This would allow visitors to access the entire Camas Road and hiking opportunities, Apgar and the Visitor Center, the foot of Lake McDonald, and the Lake McDonald Lodge area while effectively reducing crowding on the Sun Road and Logan Pass itself.

Be a good neighbor, Glacier National Park – and realize that even though you need to implement Ticketed Entry to address issues on the Sun Road, your advertising and Regional/National and International Attraction will bring visitors even though they are not likely to get an entry ticket. By moving the Ticketed Access Entry Point up the Sun Road, you will have given them an opportunity to sample the Park, instead of locking them out. You will be making the most of the capacity you have around the lower end of Lake McDonald, Apgar, and the Camas Road. And you won’t be forcing visitors to trek to Polebridge, only to be denied admittance to Bowman and Kintla Lakes as they fill up early in the morning.

The crowds we saw last year are problematic for both the Park and the North Fork. We all suffered.

But locking visitors out of the Park only solves the problem for the Park – and dumps the problem on their neighbors. People will still come. It is the Park’s responsibility to make the best use of the resources they have to accommodate the visitors they attract. Thank you for your consideration.

Allen Chrisman,

Kalispell and Trail Creek