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Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park report that an analysis of the park’s 2008 budget has been completed. This year’s budget supports seasonal park operations funded from park operating funds, but there is less funding than in previous years for cyclic maintenance projects such as trails, buildings and road repair.
Acting Superintendent Stephanie Dubois noted, "Glacier National Park’s budget is almost $25 million and is comprised of two separate components- base operating funding and special project funding. This year, we have good news in regards to our base funding, but our special project funding is not as robust as in previous years. Nevertheless, the National Park Service (NPS), including Glacier National Park, has fared much better than many federal agencies."
The park’s base operating budget increased from $12,030,000 to $13,190,000, which is an almost 10 percent increase and fully covers pay increases for employees paid from base funding. The increase will also help with escalating utility and fuel costs for daily operations. Included within this operating budget is $624,975 from the National Park Service’s Centennial Initiative. This is a permanent increase to the park’s operating budget that will provide for enhanced seasonal operations.
The Centennial Initiative funding corresponds to specific park requests and covers a variety of activities. The Division of Interpretation will restore two seasonal positions- one in Two Medicine and one in Many Glacier, and will also add a new seasonal position. Facility Management will hire nine new seasonal positions and will extend several current seasonal positions. Visitor and Resource Protection will hire several new positions including: two biological technicians, one fire forestry technician, one permanent subject-to-furlough (STF) ranger, and three seasonal rangers. Additionally, 16 rangers will work longer seasons. Funding was also provided for a new volunteer coordinator.
There were additional operational increases for Interpretation. These increases enable the park to make the education specialist a permanent STF position and to hire a permanent STF visual information specialist. The visual information specialist is also partially funded by the NPS Intermountain Region and will work with other parks to develop media for them. Further, five seasonal rangers were restored and an additional position will work a longer season.
"In practical terms, this base operating funding increase means that we will be able to hire more seasonal employees and visitors will see more rangers out in the park," Dubois noted. "We will begin a special watchable wildlife program in Many Glacier. We will be able to better protect the public and park resources through the extension and/or hiring of protection rangers. Our education program will be permanent, which will foster park stewardship among youth. We will continue connecting people to Glacier through the use of cutting-edge technology."
For special project funding, this year we were unsuccessful in securing funding for cyclic maintenance projects for trails ($248,000), buildings ($300,000), visitor use area maintenance ($161,000) and roads ($240,000). Lack of funding for these projects will result in an overall net loss of temporary employees in these areas unless funding is secured through other means. Loss of special project positions will impact trail repair work as well as historic preservation, buildings, and campground maintenance activities. Further, there will be no road chip sealing.
"It is important to note that we have been very successful in obtaining special project funds in previous years and we fully expect to secure cyclic maintenance funds next year. We do have some trail crew and seasonal laborers funded out of our base operating funds, and these positions will continue this year," Dubois said.
Dubois also added that the Centennial Initiative’s federal matching of private contributions for approved projects is currently awaiting Congressional approval.
"We are working to find creative solutions to this year’s cyclic shortfalls. We have already begun discussions with The Glacier National Park Fund for possible targeted fundraising in these areas," Dubois said. "We are confident that with our base increase and with the help of our partners, 2008 will be an excellent time to visit Glacier National Park."
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