Environmental Factors

With the headwaters of three continental drainages located in Glacier Park, flora and fauna have diverse affinities with many species occurring near the geographic limits of their range. Even slight differences in elevation and directional exposure can radically alter the occurrence of specific habitats and, hence, the distribution of plants and animals.

Monitoring changes to the environment, such as impacts due to global climate change and the spread of exotic species, is matched with serious restoration efforts. We want to pass this place to future generations the way it is today, or better.

wispy clouds and blue skies over a mountain
Air Quality

Glacier is protected under the Clean Air Act as a Class I airshed

barren rock in glacier basin under dark clouds
Climate Change

Glacier's alpine glaciers make it one of the top research sites for climate science and a place to see climate change in action.

Pile of debris from rockslide pours over road retaining wall
Geologic Activity

These mountains are a place of constant activity.

meltwater pours over rocks
Hydrologic Activity

Glaciers and snowpack feed hydrologic activity throughout the summer.

Vivid milky way over silhouetted trees
Lightscape / Night Sky

Glacier protects an important resource that is diminishing in a increasingly urban nation.

Gloved people picking invasive weeds by river
Nonnative Species

Invasive plants and aquatic species threaten native species existence, spurring park restoration efforts.

stellars jay sits on limb with beak open
Soundscape / Noise

The song of a bird and roar of a waterfall are all part of Glacier's natural soundscape.

split-level water view of forested lakeshore and underwater rocks
Water Quality

As the nation's headwaters, Glacier waters are worthy of protection.

clouds creep over silhouetted mountain peaks

The Continental Divide makes for unpredictable weather in Glacier's mountains.


Areas of Concern

The preservation and maintenance of Glacier's natural resources is a daunting task for park managers given the growing list of threats, including some that are global in scale such as a warming climate. The introduction of invasive, nonnative (exotic) plant and fish species are major issues too.

For an up-to-date list of federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act, please visit the species list maintained by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Glacier National Park provides habitat for state-listed species of concern. More information can be found by visiting the Montana Natural Heritage Program.

Glacier has joined over 120 other parks in the Climate Friendly Parks initiative. Member parks make it a top priority to respond to climate change and move park operations in a more sustainable direction.

"Wilderness" is a word with many emotional or historical meanings, but one meaning carries federal distinction. Official Wilderness designation and addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System requires an act of Congress. Glacier National Park lands are not designated, but are managed as wilderness per NPS policy. Over 90% of the park has been proposed for inclusion.

Last updated: December 10, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



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