Photo: NPS/Montana Conservation Corps

Year after year, your donations to the Glacier Conservancy support a special partnership between Glacier National Park and the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC). Participants in conservation corps support critical preservation initiatives in the park, while translating their knowledge and passion for the environment into valuable work experience that provides lasting benefit to Glacier for years to come.

Even though operations have been modified and scaled back due to COVID-19, a limited number of crews are still hard at work in the park this summer. Your support continues to make this program possible, and some funds will roll into 2021 since certain programs are not running this year, including youth and Piikani land crews.

What Have The Crews Been Up To?

Earlier this summer, a small MCC crew of six members joined Glacier’s citizen science program on a 10-day hitch on the park’s west side. Crews conducted mountain goat and loon surveys at ten different sites. They also spent a full day collecting dragonfly larvae with the Dragonfly Mercury Project. Glacier’s Citizen Science Coordinator, Jami Belt, commented on the scope of the trip:

“As a crew we hiked 58 miles over 7 days, performing backcountry goat and loon counts, identifying the gender, age, and behavior of animals found. It was particularly important work to identify loons that were nesting, so we were looking for hatched chicks and nest sites along the lakes.”

A mountain goat peeks around a rocky cliff edge

Photo: NPS

Mountain goats are one of several species in the park that Glacier’s citizen science program works hard to track and monitor every year.

Two Common Loons swim in an alpine lake during a rain shower

Photo: NPS

The common loon is considered a Species of Concern in Montana. The park’s citizen science program is increasing our understanding of their populations and reproductive successes in Glacier.

Crews are also hard at work on trail maintenance and noxious weed control and prevention this summer. The crews have been spraying or pulling weeds of all varieties, including oxeye daisy, knapweed, toadflax, non-native hawkweed, St. John’s wort, Canada thistle, and bull thistle. The mitigation of non-native species is critical in order to allow native plant species to thrive. Popular treatment locations include Going-to-the-Sun Road, Firebrand Pass Trailhead, Bowman Lake Campground, and Two Medicine Road.

Purple spotted knapweed grows alongside the road next to a large red bus

Photo: NPS

Spotted knapweed in considered an invasive weed in Glacier National Park. Here it can be seen growing alongside the road next to a historic Red Bus. Cleaning your vehicle before visiting the park is an easy way to prevent invasive plant seeds from harboring on your vehicle and spreading throughout the park.

Yellow toadflax grows in an alpine environment

Photo: NPS

Yellow toadflax is another invasive weed in Glacier National Park. Park biologists routinely monitor infestations in order to control the spread of this weed and over 100 other non-native species.

Later This Year

Beginning at the end of August, another MCC crew will be working on the Conservancy-funded Swiftcurrent Accessible Trail in Many Glacier. This multi-year project began in 2011 and will soon create a level, accessible trail all the way around Swiftcurrent Lake. Even though the east side of the park remains closed to visitors throughout the rest of the 2020 season, visitors of all abilities will be able to enjoy this trail in future years.

The rest of the MCC crews will be working with Glacier’s fire crew in September, performing fuel reduction around Park Headquarters and Apgar. We look forward to sharing more updates about these projects in the fall!

Your Support Makes A Difference

This project and many other critical projects would not be possible without your donations to the Glacier Conservancy.

Learn more about how your support is making other preservation projects possible in Glacier National Park!