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A Carbon Bomb Train Runs Through It

Glaciers Melting – Fires Raging – Tourist Hordes Destroying

Bold And Severe Restrictions Must Be Imposed Immediately

US Border Agent: “You have no Constitutional rights”

Bomb train at base of mountains that form boundary of Glacier National Park

Bomb train at base of mountains that form boundary of Glacier National Park

I’ve visited and written and posted photos about Glacier National Park and the disappearing glaciers before, so won’t repeat or waste your time with more pretty landscape photos (see this and this).

In my view, Glacier is by far the most spectacular and significant National Park.

Apparently, many other folks feel the same way, as I was disgusted to learn last week.

First, the coal trains and carbon bomb trains – I can think of no more tragic juxtaposition, given the melting and projected  elimination of the glaciers in the Park by 2030 (here’s another broader shot. Location of train is literally straddling the Great Divide. On the right (not shown) is where Lewis and Clark National Forest meets Flathead National Forest):


My prior visit in 2007 was soon after a huge 2003 fire in Flathead National Forest on the western edge of the park. That fire burnt 136,000 acres in the park. I was pleased to see the healthy forest recovery underway there.

But, there was also another huge fire in 2015 on the eastern side of the park that still looks really bad. Both fires were caused by humans.

Worse, last week, the tourist hordes were so massive, I simply drove right through the Park without stopping, not even for a photo.

Instead I camped on the shore of Lower St. Mary’s Lake, just a few miles north of the eastern park entrance/exit (take a look – how’s that for a campsite? No fees, no rules, no rangers, no noisy neighbors):


After 3 nights there, I drove up to the Canadian side of the International Peace Park and spent some time in lovely Waterton, Alberta (photos – notice how the Canadians emphasize the international aspects and the “Peace Park”! Sadly, that’s something you don’t see on the US “National” side):

Waterton Lake, Alberta Canada

Waterton Lake, Alberta Canada

entering Waterton International Peace Park, Alberta, Canada

entering Waterton International Peace Park, Alberta, Canada



We don't need no stinking "Peace Park"! We're #1! USA! USA! USA!

We don’t need no stinking “Peace Park”! We’re #1! USA! USA! USA!

Crossing the border into Canada was a pleasant experience. The officer was courteous and friendly and asked relevant questions (any guns or explosives?, etc). In comparison, on re-entry, the US Border official was a total asshole.

We rolled up for inspection on the passenger side. I had the passenger side window half rolled up to keep the dog from jumping out and to protect the officer.

But before even asking any questions, he immediately demanded that I roll the window all the way down and as I was attempting to do so he opened the door.

I objected, grabbed the door to shut it, and said he should ask permission. He tussled with me and the door and said he could do whatever he wanted without permission because he was conducting an inspection.

I told him I was a US citizen with Constitutional rights – including privacy – and that I had a dog I was trying to protect him from. I said “You don’t just go and open people’s doors without asking”.

But, after briefly acknowledging my valid point about the dog, he railed on. Instead of the usual appropriate questions, he instead first asked if I was working (because I have a work van?). I replied that I was retired. He then demanded to know “from what?”. I told him that that was an irrelevant question and that I had Constitutional and privacy rights that he was violating.

I was absolutely stunned by his reply – which he repeated 3 times: “No you don’t. You have no rights. You are trying to enter the US. I can do anything I want, including inspecting your vehicle without permission and asking any questions I want. You must comply and answer if you want to enter the Country.

Fuck that. I turned the engine off and told him he was wrong – that I had rights and that anything he did must respect them and must have a reasonable basis and that my prior employment was not relevant and private information.

He replied that I might be a retired nuclear physicist trying to smuggle nuclear material!

I told him to X-ray the van!

He said “I’m not going to argue with you” and then walked around back, got my plate number, and began a computer check of me and my visa. A few minutes later I was on my way.

The damn fool didn’t ask me if I had guns! Could the NRA Gun Nuts have made such questions taboo? (similar to the terror watch list and gun purchase screening issues, which do not consider gun ownership questions). How could my employment status be more important than whether I had guns?

But, aside from the US border excess, given the existential and immediate nature of the climate change threat to the Park – compounded by fire and way too many tourists – I write this open letter to park Superintendent Mow to remind him of his moral duty to act in light of the nature and gravity of the threats and the overwhelming science on climate change.

Mow has high profile political experience to understand how to make this happen, see his Bio:

Jeff has served on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with the NPS Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs. His additional experiences have included: 1) DOI Incident Commander on the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, 2) investigator on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska, and 3) Policy Advisor to the fledgling NPS Climate Change Response Program.


Dear Park Superintendent Mow:

I am writing regarding existential threats to Glacier NP and your moral and professional duties to act, based on consensus science, the immediacy and magnitude of the threats, and the mission of the Park Service.

According to NPS visitors literature, there will be no glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2030!

The current joint NPS – US EPA national “Climate Friendly Parks Policy”  and the timid Glacier NP “Action Plan are woefully deficient and a prescription for the literal death of Glacier NP!

The climate change threats alone demand immediate and bold actions – but the gross excedance of the park’s ecological and cultural carrying capacity by hordes of tourists driving in cars is of a similar magnitude.

So here’s a few suggestions to illustrate what I’m driving at:

1. Impose an immediate ban on all motorized vehicles entering the park (except electric powered vehicles and bona fide emergency fire, police and rescue service vehicles).

2. Revoke all vendor service and concession contracts and renew them with a contractual demand that all shuttles, vans and bus fleets be limited to electric vehicles and all buildings be zero carbon by 2023.

3. Order all park employees to commute to work by foot, bicycle, or horseback.

4. Order that all buildings in the park become zero or negative carbon emitters by 2023, via energy conservation measures and on-site generation of non-carbon based renewable energy technologies.

5. Rescind the current ban on bicycles between 11 am and 4 pm! It is absurd!

6. convert current NPS vehicle fleet to electric vehicles.

Glacier National Park is internationally recognized and the existential threat of loss of the park’s namesake glaciers due to climate change demands bold action.

I suggest that you write a policy decision memorandum to your boss in Washington -based on the above list and more! – and copy all Park Superintendents, the Congress and news media.

All you have to lose is your job. And just think of the leadership and public education and parallel actions such bold action on your part would generate!

And you can sleep at night knowing that you did all you could do.


Bill Wolfe

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