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Why Is Interior Dragging Feet On Keeping Glacier National Park from Being Shelled?


Snowsheds long have been used to shield rail lines from avalanches along Glacier National Park's southern boundary as this 1979 photo shows. NPS Photo by Peter Martinelli.

It's been months since Glacier National Park officials concluded after lengthy environmental studies that snowsheds, not 105mm howitzer shells, should be used to protect freight trains from avalanches sliding off the park's southern flanks.

And yet Interior Department officials have yet to sign off on that decision.

Why? That's a good question that not even the National Park Service can answer.

“We've made requests to Washington, asking why the decision is being delayed,” Mary Riddle, Glacier's environmental and protection specialist, told Montana's Missoulian newspaper. “So far, we've not had any response to our inquiries.”

Back in 2005 officials for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway told park officials they wanted to resort to lobbing 105 mm shells into the park rather than maintain snowsheds, structures it has been using along the tracks that run along Glacier's southern boundary since 1920 or so in the name of avalanche control, because it would be cheaper.

With freight trains running daily past the park, hauling upwards of 33,000 container cars a day to and from the Northwest, this is a pretty key route to keep open for commerce. Just the same, the landscape being targeted for bombing by the railroad is inside a national park and is home to grizzly bears -- which theoretically could be shaken from their winter's slumber by the shelling -- mountain goats, wolverines and other wildlife.

While park officials believe snowsheds protecting less than a mile of tracks could solve the problem of avalanches blocking the tracks, railroad officials have said that option, with a price tag of around $5.5 million, is too expensive. Never mind that the railroad had revenues of $15 billion and a net profit of almost $2 billion in 2006 and that the bullish times have continued ever since.

For the rest of the story, read the Missoulian article.


as usuall there are those that have and won't let go, even if it is for the common good and there is those that have not. if it's to get done it will have to be our tax dollars that do it. so the haves can keep what they have.
are these not the same people that used are tax dollars to bail them out of bankruptcy not long ago ?

Must be a buck in it for somebody, off the books.

Sounds typical...the RR's are making the money, and always want the shareholders pocket books fat when pay day comes. Nevermind if it destroys Nature, and, I guess they think the park has to many animals. Grizzleys are off the endangered list right? Thats enough justifacation for them! The rich get richer and , well, you know the rest. With all of the pollution minded people, you would think that it would be great PR, for the RR company to build the snow sheds,maybe people would not look at them like any other money mongur, that cares for nothing but themselves and their money! God knows a Typical Engine belches out more pollution than a hundred cars in an hour of use! Come on RR Guys! Pull your head out of that oriface that it is burried in! For once, Help Mother Nature!

I AGREE WITH SCOTT ------ "are these not the same people that used are tax dollars to bail them out of bankruptcy not long ago ? " ------ AND THIS HAPPENS TOO OFTEN OUR NON CORRUPT COUNTRY ! ! ! ! !

5.5 million for dealing with snow !!, what, does it snow 365 day a year. I want that job

I think it snows about 300 days a year there.

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