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Glacier DEIS Opposes Bombing Avalanche Chutes


    Glacier National Park officials are recommending that the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad build snowsheds, not bomb the park's mountains, in the name of snow safety.
    While the railroad had sought permission to use a 105 millimeter howitzer to lob rounds into avalanche chutes rising above the railroad's tracks and U.S. 2 along the southern border of the park, the draft environmental impact statement released today points to a preferred alternative calling for snowshed construction.
    “After exhaustive study, we have determined that constructing less than one mile of snowsheds will best preserve park values while simultaneously providing the best protection for BNSF employees, freight, and equipment," says Glacier Superintendent Mick Holm. "Alternative B was therefore selected as our preferred alternative.”
    Alternative A was the so-called no-action alternative, under which nothing would change from the current situation. Alternative C would give the railroad limited authority to use non-military explosives to reduce avalanche hazards for up to ten years while it works to build snowsheds and funds a resource monitoring program. Alternative D, the final alternative, would allow the railroad to use explosives, including military munitions, indefinitely and also extend two snowsheds.
    Park officials will take public comments on the DEIS for 60 days, or through December 22. Also, open houses to discuss the document will be held December 5th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Red Lion in Kalispell, Montana, and December 6th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the park's Community Building in West Glacier. During the second hour of each meeting public comment will be taken on the DEIS.
    You can find a copy of the DEIS here. If you can't attend one of the two meetings but want to comment on the document, use that web site or send written comments by snail mail to:
        Glacier National Park
        Attn: Avalanche Hazard DEIS
        P.O. Box 128
        West Glacier, Montana  59936

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