Glacier Park Photographer

Glacier Park Photographer
Saint Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Montana

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Glacier National Park - Crown of the Continent Ecosystem - Bear Research

In a press release issued May 15, 2017 Glacier National Park announced that it will begin it's annual inter-agency effort to monitor grizzly bears throughout the Crown Ecosystem. The  Park Services is asking the public to avoid entering trapping locations, and always have your bear spray handy and know how and when to use it. 

A young male grizzly bear. © Tony Bynum
Here's a grizzly location map from about 2008 . . . By the looks of it, at least within the study area and on it's margins, Grizzly bears have been, or will likely be everywhere at one time or another. Sure, some will venture beyond where humans think they should go, after all, they are still bears.  Click here see more photographs of wild grizzly bears.
The dots represent the average location of each bear. Glacier Park is north of Highway 2 and south of the Canadian Boarder. Source: Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, "Montana Outdoors," Magazine, 2009. 
According to the press release, areas where bears are actively being trapped or baited will be marked and flagged so heed the warring and avoid entering these areas. Research is a necessary part of management our resources. We should respect the request and not disrupt the data collection activities, or the bears for that matter. In a similar story, a number of years ago a man was actually killed by a bear after entering a study closer area. 

Thoughts on Bear Management 

Although I personally believe we have the data we really need at this point (researchers will always come up with more questions than answers). I believe the real problem for our bears, and most wildlife is not that we don't know enough about them, but we don't do enough of the right things, to allow them to live. It comes down to habitat, and politics. 

The two things, loss of habitat though encroachment mostly from new homes and towns expanding into the remaining high quality habitat, and the strength of the political machine to talk about the importance of habitat but then make decisions that, at least for the foreseeable future (our lifetimes and our children's) are not good for wildlife, particularly bears. 

A grizzly bear sow with her two cubs. © Tony Bynum
As a society we can't just leave a trial a trail, we have to turn it into a road. A road then becomes a highway and soon enough there are 14 foot fences down either side of a 500 foot easement streaming semi's and cars, 3 wide each way for miles. Yet we still study bears to try to find out what they need. I'll tell you what they need. To start, they need space and to be left un molested. 

I've always thought we could do away with most of the monitoring, and expense, if we would do things that we know protect the habitat. But since we cant do that, we have to keep looking for more minutia or that silver bullet that says, "if we do this, it will be okay, go ahead and drill right here." 

More education and less study is what we need. We need an ecological ethic. 

Well folks, I'll leave you with this from Aldo Leopold: 

“The time has come for science to busy itself with the earth itself. The first step is to reconstruct a sample of what we had to start with. That in a nutshell is the Arboretum.” The Arboretum and the University, The River of the Mother of God.

Full copy of the Glacier National Park Grizzly Monitoring Press Release 

May 15, 2017
Lauren Alley 406-888-5838
MEDIA17-18

Annual Bear Monitoring and Capturing Begins
Visitors urged to be alert and follow bear safety protocols while hiking in the park

WEST GLACIER, MT – Each year, Glacier National Park participates in an interagency effort to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

To monitor population trends, bait stations, automated cameras, and traps are used to capture and mark the animals. There are an estimated 300 grizzly bears living in the park. The park’s goal is to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-marked female grizzly bears for this monitoring effort. This year, some bears may receive a collar for the first time. Others may have a collar replaced if it is near the end of its useful lifespan.

Brightly colored warning signs identify bait stations and trap sites. Visitors are required to heed these signs and not enter closed areas. In 2010, a man was killed by a grizzly bear seven miles east of Yellowstone National Park after wandering into a capture site. Trapping efforts will continue May 15 through October at various locations throughout the park.

“Glacier National Park is bear country, and park visitors should be prepared for bear sightings, in addition to following other hiking safety precautions,” said Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park Superintendent.

Park visitors should travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park. 

While carrying firearms within national parks and wildlife refuges is permitted as consistent with state laws, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved. Wounding a bear, even with a large caliber firearm, can put you and others in far greater danger.

Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it.

Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors and their personal property safe.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible.

In addition to bear safety precautions, hikers in Glacier National Park should review other safety measures to take when exploring park trails. To help plan day hiking trips in the park, Glacier offers a Day Trip Plan to help visitors prepare for their hike. Before departure, it is vital to tell someone where in the park you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. Visitors should carry the ten essentials, including a map of the area, a compass, a flashlight, extra food, extra clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen, a pocketknife, matches in a waterproof container, a candle or other fire starter, and a first aid kit. Visitors should also carry bear spray and be prepared for suddenly changing weather events.

For more information about how to safely explore Glacier National Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/glac. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Glacier National Park - new boating rules may help protect the Park Waters from invasive species

DO NOT PLAN TO USE YOUR OWN WATERCRAFT ON EAST SIDE LAKES UNTIL JUNE 1, 2017! Lake Mcdonald and the North Fork area lakes will be open for personal, nonmotorized, hand carried boats only (NO TRAILERS WILL BE ALLOWED IN GLACIER PARK WATERS  AT ALL) on May 15, 2017 - WITH LAUNCH PERMIT ONLY!

Stormy waters on Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. © Tony Bynum 

Last year Glacier National Park officials closed park waters, under an emergency order, when invasive, non-native muscles were found just east of the Blackfeet Reservation at Tiber Dam. Tiber Dam is about 120 miles east of Glacier Park and sits 10 miles south of Highway 2, between Chester and Galata - yep, between Chester and Galata . . .

A single boater on Lake Mcdonald, Glacier National Pake, Montana. © Tony Bynum

This year, although the threat still remains and likely will forever, Glacier National Park has crafted new regulations for the 2017 summer season. (link to Glacier National Park boating page with new rules). Here is an exert from the Glacier National Park boating page.
You must thoroughly clean, drain, and dry all of your boating, wading, and fishing equipment before coming to the park. A free launch permit is required to launch all non-motorized watercraft in Glacier National Park. In order to qualify for the permit, all such boats, arriving at the park, must be cleaned, drained, and dried prior to inspection by NPS staff. Boats that pass inspection will be issued a launch permit, which is valid as long as your watercraft stays in the park. It is critical that all boats be cleaned, drained, and dried or a permit will not be issued.

Boat trailers are not permitted to enter park waters. All trailered non-motorized watercraft must be hand carried to launch points.

Inspection stations for hand-propelled watercraft will be located on the west side of the park in Apgar Village (for Lake McDonald and North Fork area lakes), and the east side of the park at Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier Ranger Stations.

Though launch hours are not restricted, inspection hours are limited. Hours vary throughout the park and will be adjusted seasonally. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, permits are available from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Apgar boat ramp (Station closure time will be adjusted as summer daylight wanes) and from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations - St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and the Many Glacier Ranger Station.

Boaters wishing to launch on any North Fork lakes must obtain a permit at Park Headquarters, and then immediately proceed to their North Fork launch location after inspection.Boaters living in the North Fork area who wish to boat in North Fork lakes, should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for inspection procedures.

Glacier National Park only provides boat inspections and permits for boaters launching on park waters. Inspections and launch permits for Blackfeet tribal waters are available on U.S. Hwy 2 between East Glacier and Browning and at Chewing Black Bones Campground, just north of St. Mary MT. (https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/boating.htm) 
This is, in my view, a logical response to the threat of waterborne invasive species. I don't like it, but it's logical and probably the best option.

There are holes and issues that still need addressing, but until the Park Services can come up with a better plan, I think caution is the better park of valor.

Issues that still need addressing publicly.
  • Local boaters. What about local people who's boats only go into Glacier Park waters and never leave the area? Many local people live and recreate in the Park. Every time we leave the official boundary of the Park we have to get reinspected. There should be a special use permit for those of us who live here and regularly use Park waters with our own personal watercraft. There could be a provision that if the watercraft is used in any other water, it must be re-inspected, otherwise, it can be used. 
  • Issues related to Park boundary waters like the Middle Fork (not in the park but is the southern boundary) and the North Fork of the Flathead River, and Lower Two Medicine Lake, and Waterton Lake. According to GNP Officials, Waterton Lakes also has a moratorium on motorboats but allows self inspection of hand paddled boats). The question is, how are we going to keep invasive species out of waters located in multiple jurisdictions? The "flimsy" inspection program won't be enough. It's a start but until the NPS Glacier National Park makes a real public relations push I fear we'll wind up with invasive species in the Park. The Blackfeet Tribe is requiring boat and wader inspections too! 
Option for those who want to boat Glacier Park but done/can't/won't bring your own boat. 
  • Use Glacier Park Incorporated boats - expensive and now, due to increased demand, will be harder to rent. But, you can rent canoes and other paddle style boats, or take a ride on one of the historical, guided boat tours. 
Glacier Park Boat Company operates several historic boats. This is Swift Current Lake in Glacier National Park. © Tony Bynum

Happy Boating - Swift Current Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park - © Tony Bynum
Link to additional Glacier National Park Photographs

Always wear your Personal Floatation Device. Happy Boating in Glacier National Park. Tony Bynum



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring in Glacier National Park - first "dark sky's" designation - but what will users do about it?

It's raining and snowing here in Glacier National Park, at least on the "wild-side" of the park - east glacier to the Canadian Border. For the people who live along the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, the eastern border of Glacier Park, spring means warmer temperatures and receding snow lines but it also means wet weather.
The snow line is receding, the grass is greening but the clouds are providing ample rain and snow. 
This particular spring is a bit cooler and wetter than it has been in the past few years. I predict a later opening for the Going to the Sun road than last year, but it should be open in June! Lately, we've had cool nights, cool days, some rain mixed with snow, lots of clouds, slowly greening grass, and the pasque flower is blooming!  

The first prominent prairie wildflower of the spring. 

Looking west across the southern end of the Blackfeet Reservation into Glacier National Park and Saint Nick. 


Going the Sun Road near Saint Mary Lake. © Tony Bynum 

I wanted to bring to your attention the news that Glacier National Park was just given the honor of being the first "Dark Sky's" park. What is a Dark Sky's park? It's one where there's a strategy to consider and reduce ambient scattered light. Where stargazers and photographers can go to take photos of the night sky. Here's the full article about Dark Sky's and Glacier-Waterton Peace Park.

Sounds like a fantastic idea. I have one request, please, if you're into night photography, stop using massive amounts of annoying bright light in your photography and just use what the stars, moon, and nature provides. What I mean is, how about not adding light sabers, torches, lighting rocks and tents, no more of it, please. It sucks when you're watching over Lake Mcdonald or Saint Mary Lake and you have to watch light saber duels flashing around all night, it's become a very strange thing. I wonder why people don't take a more careful measure of their impact on the people around them? 

Various ways "Dark Sky's" are wrecked by people who love dark sky's adding bright lights. It's rather amazing that the people who love to star gaze seem to also love to shine bright lights around in the sky. I don't get it. This is a screen grab off google photos. 
Switching gears. The opening day of Serrano's restaurant has become something of a milestone. The town of East Glacier comes out of its winter slumber on May 1st, the day Serranos restaurant opens. In the past few years, it's been pretty popular so get there early, I think they open at 4pm.  

If you're interested in food during the winter months, Ramsey's "Fire Brand" is open year around, and Mark Howser, popular "Two Medicine Grill" opens early to serve you and is a year around restaurant connected to a small, but well-stocked grocery store. You can get beer, wine, ice cream, there's a deli and they make pizza too! 

Finally, for gas in East Glacier, There are Bear Tracks. Bear Tracks offers beer, wine, milk, chips, and a wide assortment of foods. It's gas pumps are always open and the store is open year around as well. 

If you're planning a trip to Glacier, please bring your bear spray and carry it where you can actually us it!  

For more Glacier Park Photographs here's a link to Tony Bynum's gallery with a few Glacier Park Photographs. 

Tony Bynum 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Record Breaking Snowfall for East Glacier Park, Montana!

It's not widely known that East Glacier Park just dug out from over 60" of snow. Little is know broadly about winters in East Glacier Park - until now.

I want to share with you a short, time-lapse I created. You'll see me move a mountain of snow after the epic winter snowstorm of February 2017.

Enjoy


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Glacier National Park - Guest Post Richard Horst

This is a departure from my normal musings. I asked a friend if he would write a story about his fist visit to Glacier National Park. He agreed.

Richard lives in the southern portion of Montana with his wife and two kids. He often visits Yellowstone, bud had never been to Glacier. This year, he and his wife drove up to Glacier Park for the fist time ever.

If you're interested in telling your Glacier Park Story, please let me know. I'd like to find a few people who would like to make regular contributions to this blog.  

Here's Richards take on Glacier National Park.

It was really a no-brainer. The plans were being made to return and the sign from St. Mary's was still taking up the full width of the rearview mirror. Rejuvenated, elated, full of wonder and awe, my wife and I could hardly contain ourselves. We had spent the last 4 days trekking hikes on various trails through the east side in the Crown of the Continent. "We are so bringing the kids back next year," my wife said enthusiastically, "we just have to, this has to be an annual trip with them from now on!" She exclaimed. Up until this point, even after living in and around southwestern Montana for 15 years, we had never been to Glacier National Park. 

Lunch break amongst the wild flowers with a view of Grinnell Glacier

I remember the feeling as we settled in the campground just outside St. Mary's. We had maps spread out like kids on Christmas morning planning our 4 days to explore. We wanted to cover as much country as we could, even if it meant wearing ourselves out! Well, we succeeded in doing just that. Each day we completed 8-15 mile unbelievable round trip hikes - from the more difficult Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake hikes to the easier Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake loop. Socks worn thin, sore legs and backs, evidence of blisters and all, it was perfect! Since that first trip, we have been like mini marketing gurus for GNP, for those of you who have been there know, this area is like no other. We knew we had just barely scratched the surface of what this magnificent place had to offer and decided it was our goal from now on to explore as much of it as we possibly can.

Lake Josephine's mirror

My photography of Glacier is in its infancy. However, that's part of the wonder of it all. Planning, exploring and creating. It is such a vast and diverse place that wildlife excursions can also lead to panoramic landscapes, portraits of lakes and mountains, picturesque waterfalls, wild flowers, even historic buildings and bridges. Everywhere you gaze is literally a work of art. My camera pack is always full and it's easy to get your mind in a scramble. That's the fun part though - it is always an adventure! And while wildlife is invariably my primary focus, I am always looking to connect with my surroundings in nature. That is why I have often found myself overwhelmed with the power and mystique that blankets GNP.

High above "The Lick"

This year was our 3rd annual excursion to GNP and each time, not wanting to leave, I have managed to find a way to extend my stay longer and longer. On this trip, the first 4 days we spent as a family, choosing less strenuous adventures the kids could handle. But the next two days I spent there alone, on a mission to add more and more photographs to my ever growing collection. For me as a photographer the trick is starting early, as the evidence of first light barely tickles the tops of the trees. At this time of day you can have many places in GNP all to yourself for longer than you think.

Two Medicine area of East Glacier

Your mindset needs to be wide open though - with the only plan of the day to be back to the trailhead by dark. Even the "tourist hot spots" can be near vacant for a fraction of time if you plan it right. Go there early, or very late in the day even, and the wonder of it all can be yours exclusively, but if only for a few moments. Those moments can seem like hours.
There is something very spiritual and healing in Glacier National Park. For me, the "Mountains are my Medicine."

Maybe I'll see you there... and I press the shutter release...

A kid being a kid and cooling off in the summer sun

Thanks for listening and if you have a moment visit my images over on my website.