...to promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.– Organic Act, National Park Service Mission Statement, 1916
We realize that the easiest way to move towards sustainability is to commit to it from the start. When creating new buildings, we recognize the environmental impact of each developmental stage, from energy usage to native landscaping. Apgar Visitor Center is a testament to that. When it was built in 2007, the Visitor Center gained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification, an official recognition by the U.S. Green Building Council that attests to a building's environmental sustainability.
Glacier National Park Lodges, operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts offers an “Opt-Out Initiative” for guests to reduce chemical and water usage by reducing their housekeeping services. Over 25% of lodging guests participated in this program in 2018.
At Glacier National Park, we are proud of the accomplishments we have made in limiting our consumption of nonrenewable resources, such as oil and coal, in favor of more renewable energy sources like hydroelectric, photovoltaic (solar), and wind power. Approximately eighty-five percent of our electricity already comes from hydroelectric power supplied to us, but we're going beyond that.
Improved transportation options help to reduce the carbon footprint of park visitors and employees. An electric charging station is available at Lake McDonald Lodge for drivers with electric vehicles to charge up while visiting the park. Glacier is seeking funding to install additional charging stations in the future.
In 2007, Glacier National Park implemented a free summer shuttle system designed to reduce road congestion and transport park visitors, volunteers, and employees to points of interest along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. In 2018, the shuttle system provided alternative transportation to 216,701 riders in less than three months.
Bus tours are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while visiting the park.
Glacier’s employee shuttle was instituted in part to reduce energy consumption and vehicle emissions by employees who commute to the park for work. For a nominal fee, employees who live in nearby communities can ride to and from work in a 12-passenger Sprinter bus. The employee shuttle provides around 950 rides annually, removing an average of 4 vehicles from the road every work day. Additionally, the park fleet has been upgraded over time to include more fuel efficient, hybrid, and biodiesel vehicles.
Especially in the spring and fall when Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed the motor vehicles, bicycling is an extremely popular way to get around the park. Two bike repair stations at Lake McDonald Lodge and Rising Sun are provided for bicyclists by Xanterra.
With climate change making dramatic impacts to mountain ecosystems, we must be adaptable to change to continue as a sustainable organization. Glacier National Park uses an Adaptive Resource Management (ARM) approach as a tool to understand and respond to our changing ecosystem. Through constant monitoring, we are better able to inform management decisions and plan for an uncertain future.
Current efforts to learn about our changing park include monitoring population trends of climate sensitive species and undertaking Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Study, which is analyzing visitor use and impacts along Going-to-the-Sun Road. We are also using a system-wide approach to battle invasive species and preserve habitat for our native species. Actions such as direct removal of invasive species like lake trout, controlling existing noxious weeds from spreading, and requiring boaters to obtain a park permit for their boats help to preserve habitat and native species from an uncertain future.
Through collaboration with National Park Service offices and other agencies, Glacier has joined other parks as a Climate Friendly Park, developed an Environmental Management System, and conducted Climate Change Scenario Planning workshops to sustainably prepare for the future.
Glacier National Park’s updated Sustainability Strategic Framework and Tracking Spreadsheet, released in early 2020, lays out sustainability goals and action items in five categories: Governance & Communication, Transportation, Waste, Energy, Water Conservation & Resources. This focuses on creating attainable and challenging goals to move the park forward with sustainability. The plan includes items such as:
Over the last 100 years, the planet’s surface has warmed by about 1.5°F.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Many people fall in love with Glacier and then want to reduce their footprint.
Glacier Repeat Photography
The trend of retreat, apparent here at Glacier National Park, is also seen around the world.
Last updated: October 20, 2020