For years, trail crews and rangers in Glacier Park have worked with almost no way to communicate once they are in the backcountry. The isolated location and rugged backcountry that makes Glacier so special also creates challenges to find communication devices that work in the park, and help the park locate lost or injured visitors, which is especially a problem in urgent search and rescue operations. Glacier Park is one of the only national parks that has had no two-way radio or satellite communication possibilities for many years.
Today there are improvements in satellite technology that are making two-way communication in the backcountry possible for Glacier Park. Delorme released a two-way satellite device, and the park first purchased one unit for work on securing and protecting the International Boundary to trial the technology and had great success. Last year, donations to the Glacier Conservancy helped purchase 14 devices for the park. Supplying some trail crew and rangers with the technology has been immensely helpful for general park communications, and the devices have also been critical in serious search and rescue operations – improved communication that means the difference between life and death in an emergency.
This project allows us to expand the capacity of the park to communicate in the backcountry, allowing more rangers and crew to carry the devices, enabling the park to manage projects in the backcountry more effectively, and also to have more communication with rangers and park staff in remote locations who can then respond to urgent communications regarding everything from lost hikers, severe weather, and critical search and rescue operations.