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Glacier National Park Sets Record in Centennial Year

January 4, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Glacier National Park’s centennial year was also its busiest, as the park welcomed more than 2.2 million visitors and held more than 130 centennial events.

Glacier set a record with 2,216,109 visitors in the first 11 months of the year, breaking the old mark of 2,203,847 in all of 1983, Associated Press reported.

“We all feel it has been a success and the numbers certainly reflect it,” Glacier spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt told the Daily Inter Lake.

Glacier’s centennial coordinator, Kass Hardy, said the park’s relationships with the Glacier National Park Fund, the Glacier Association, the Glacier Institute and Glacier National Park Associates were strengthened as the park partners helped celebrate Glacier’s 100th anniversary.

Personal connections to the park were renewed with nine alumni reunions, Hardy said.

“It was amazing to watch those people come back together to a place that was so meaningful to them,” she said.

Among the groups that gathered in 2010 were former park employees, former drivers of the park’s red tour buses, and former employees of Many Glacier Hotel and the Belton Chalet.

“Some of these people hadn’t been back to the park for 20 or 30 years,” she said. “It was inspiring to see their personal connections and see them reconnecting with one another and the park.”

As part of the centennial celebration, seven legacy projects were planned and funding secured for five. Some of the work is under way.

“The legacy projects were set up with the Glacier National Park Fund,” Hardy said. “The idea was to have some kind of bricks-and-mortar things done in the centennial year.”

One project was to increase handicapped-accessible trails and one on the northeast side of Swiftcurrent Lake is nearly complete.

Another project was raising money for new exhibits at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The exhibits are being built and should be installed over the next couple of years, Hardy said.

The Glacier National Park Fund is also working to develop a wildlife viewing area in the Many Glacier area, while another project calls for restoring the Heavens Peak lookout.

Other projects include a program on the history of people who have lived in the park that has been taken to schools in northwestern Montana; a citizen science project that counted the numbers of certain species in the park to gather baseline data and assessing the lighting in the park to determine if any needs to be replaced to allow greater viewing of the night sky.

One of the centennial items was a book, “A View Inside Glacier National Park, 100 years, 100 stories.”

The book hit the intended mark of “inspiring personal connections,” Hardy said. “You open it and there is something that will be relevant to you. There’s something that will cause you to want to share an experience with somebody else.”

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