Partnership connects students with Glacier

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An exciting partnership is taking shape between Glacier National Park and Columbia Falls High School that will provide housing for summer park staff and give building-trades students some valuable hands-on construction experience.

A new residential cabin for the Polebridge Ranger Station will be the first cabin to be completed by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. It will replace a deteriorated cabin that’s slated for removal. The two-room cabin could be the first of many others to be built in the coming years by Columbia Falls students. One of the long-term goals is to build skills and create interest among students who may choose construction trades for a career. As Northwest Montana continues to grow, expertise in building trades will be a valuable asset for future job-seekers.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy, the park’s philanthropic partner, is a third partner in this innovative collaboration. While most of the funding for the cabin construction will come from the National Park Service, the Conservancy stands ready to lend its support. The Conservancy has helped fund two other partnerships with Columbia Falls High School. They included a winter intern for the school’s cooperative greenhouse that grows native plants used in Glacier’s restoration projects, and funding that expanded GIS capabilities for the school’s field ecology program.

It may be a quiet time of year for Glacier Park, but planning doesn’t take a winter break. The park earlier this week announced its planning efforts for 2019 that include goals for a number of challenges such as traffic congestion on Going-to-the-Sun Road and removing non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in some water bodies and replacing the fish with native species.

Park officials are taking public comments online about their forthcoming initiatives. Tap into the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website to get involved. Glacier Park is quite literally in our back yard; it behooves all of us to take an active interest in how the park service plans to address its biggest challenges.

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