Park Seeks Comments on Draft EIS Addressing Avalanche Hazard Reduction for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park announce the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Avalanche Hazard Reduction by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) in Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest, Montana. The DEIS analyzes a request by BNSF to conduct explosive avalanche hazard reduction. Flathead National Forest and Montana Department of Transportation are cooperating agencies on the EIS. The public will have 60 days to comment on the DEIS. Public comments are due by December 22, 2006.
The DEIS analyzes four alternatives and examines resource impacts on Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest lands. Impacts on the U.S. Highway 2 road corridor are also considered in the analysis. The four alternatives are: Alternative A: "No Action" (the status quo alternative). Alternative B is the "Preferred Alternative." This alternative recommends that BNSF construct snowsheds in the area. While explosive use would not be permitted in the park, non explosive hazard reduction methods would be permitted on park land under this alternative. Alternative C would permit limited explosive use (except for military artillery) to reduce avalanche hazards for up to 10 years with a commitment from BNSF to construct snowsheds and to fund a resource monitoring program. Alternative D is BNSF’s proposal to use explosives (including military artillery) indefinitely in the park for avalanche hazard reduction and to extend two snowsheds.
Glacier National Park Superintendent Mick Holm stated, "After exhaustive study, we have determined that constructing less than one mile of snowsheds will best preserve park values while simultaneously providing the best protection for BNSF employees, freight, and equipment. Alternative B was therefore selected as our preferred alternative."
Public comments are sought on the DEIS. Public open houses and hearings will be held on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, at the Red Lion Inn from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Kalispell and on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, in Glacier National Park’s Community Building in West Glacier from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The open houses will be held for the first hour and the hearings will be held during the second hour at each session.
A limited number of copies are available upon request from the park. They can be requested by calling 406-888-7902 or writing the address below. The DEIS can also be found on-line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=61&projectId=12355. Written comments can be sent to the park electronically on this website or via the postal service addressed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Avalanche Hazard DEIS, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936.