April 18, 2006
Melissa Wilson, 406-888-7895
Salvage work is beginning this week at the site designated for the park’s new Apgar Transit Center (ATC). The ATC will be built as part of the park’s long-range efforts to provide improved visitor experiences while reducing visitor impacts caused by the forthcoming Going-to-the-Sun (Sun) Road rehabilitation work.
The Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) will assist the National Park Service (NPS) with the tree clearing and salvage.
“The conifer and native plant salvage and clearing efforts in the location for the new west side’s transit center mark an important step as we move forward with the Sun Road’s rehabilitation," said superintendent Mick Holm. "We are committed to the shared use of the entire Sun Road. The Going-to-the-Sun Road Citizens Advisory Committee and the NPS both recommended a preferred alternative that ensures continued two-way public access along the entire Sun Road throughout the summer season, while accommodating short delays for construction activities.”
This ongoing work will be augmented by a transit system that is slated to begin operation in 2007. The MCC crew and Glacier’s revegetation crew will salvage as much reusable material as possible during their efforts, which are expected to continue through April.
Native plants and soil will be salvaged for reuse in the site restoration plan or for other park locations. Topsoil and trees will be reused in the restoration plan and will also be stockpiled for future projects. Suitable trees will be re-used within the park for snow poles, corral rails, or cabin restoration, as appropriate.
“We are planning to build the Apgar Transit Center in a fashion that will enable the building to be 'gold' certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program," said Holm. "This intention is an example of how the park is committed to sustainable concepts.”
The LEED program is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Recycling of various natural materials, such as trees and topsoil, is one of the tools utilized in this program.
The ATC will be constructed at the “T-intersection,” about one mile beyond the entrance station at West Glacier. Once operational, visitors choosing to use the free shuttle system will eventually be able to stop at 17 locations in the park and along the Sun Road, including several campgrounds. Shuttle buses are expected to depart the transit facility every 30 minutes. Public parking will be available at the transit plaza, as will trip-planning information, including kiosks.
The new transit center will be separate from Glacier’s visitor center, which remains in Apgar Village. No interpretive rangers will staff the center. A second transit hub will also be established at the east entrance, as part of the St. Mary Visitor Center.
Construction of the ATC complies with the Sun Road’s environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision (ROD). In the ROD, alternative three, the ‘Shared Use’ Alternative, was selected by the NPS. This new transit center is one of the visitor development components defined in this alternative that the NPS will implement to offset impacts caused by the rehabilitation. These improvements will help maintain visitor use and access during road rehabilitation, as well as to help minimize impacts to both the local and regional economies.
Holm stressed that the new transit service is not an interpretive tour. For visitors desiring to learn about the park as they traverse it, both the historic red bus interpretive tours provided by Glacier Park, Inc. (406) 892-2525 and the Blackfeet interpretive tours provided by SunTours (800) 786-9220 will continue.
Other national parks, including Grand Canyon, Acadia, Zion, Bryce, and Denali, also have transit systems. Glacier officials have consulted with these parks regarding lessons learned. The Sun Road rehabilitation plan, final EIS and ROD are available on the park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/glac/plans.htm under the December 13, 2003, listing (ROD) and the May 13, 2003, heading (EIS).