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Contact: Mary Riddle, 406-888-7898
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park announce that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for granting a Special Use Permit to allow access over park land to a parcel of private property was signed by National Park Intermountain Regional Director Mike Snyder on November 1, 2006. The decision was reached after reviewing public comments on the environmental assessment (EA) released in September.
The landowners requested temporary access permission for hauling building materials to construct a non-residential structure on their property near Lake McDonald and to park their vehicles on an administrative road near the site. Although these property owners have deeded road access from the Going-to-the-Sun Road up to their lot, a road has never been built.
“This arrangement will allow the in-holders access to their property without having to build a road to the site, which is something we would not like to see ,” stated Park Superintendent Mick Holm, “this solution will best protect park resources.”
The landowners have agreed to haul building materials to the property on foot and to only use a motorized vehicle (an ATV) when necessary or in an emergency. Alternatively, using stock is encouraged by the park, but not required since an ATV will only be used if necessary or in an emergency. Motorized and stock use will also only be permitted when the ground is dry, frozen, or snow-covered to reduce impacts to soils and vegetation. The Special Use Permit for minimal if any use of an ATV will terminate in one year, at which time the access path will be rehabilitated back to a footpath.
A second permit will allow the landowners to park their vehicles along a park administrative road near their property. The permit will state that the landowners will not exercise their deeded access rights to the property from the Going-to-the-Sun Road during the time the special use permit is valid. A Special Use Permit can only be issued for up to five years at a time and will need to be reapplied for at the end of five years. However it is the intent of the Superintendent to continue to issue a special use permit for parking along the administrative road unless the landowners request a change in the terms and conditions that the park cannot agree to or requires additional environmental analysis.
The property is 1,750 square feet in size and is located on Snyder Ridge, ½ -mile southeast of Lake McDonald Lodge. The path on park land is approximately 75 yards long between the administrative road and the private property. The owners of the site have told the Superintendent and his staff that they do not intend to reside in the structure or install a water well or septic system on the property. The owners are precluded from living in the structure without first receiving governmental approval for water and septic facilities.
The FONSI is available through the park’s planning Web site: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkId=61.