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Special Live Chats on AOL


Guest: Denis Davis
Assistant Superintendent

Glacier National Park

July 19, 2000

Moderator: Davinder Khanna

Denis Davis, the Assistant Superintendent is a seasoned park manager with superior project management and park operational skills. 

Denis began work for the park service in 1976 as a park planner with the Denver Service Center. From there he moved to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where he also served as facility manager, then as chief of maintenance and later as administrative officer. After nine years at Glen Canyon, Davis accepted an acting superintendent position at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas before becoming superintendent at Cumberland Island in 1996.

During his 23-year career, he has won number park service awards and a recent award for resource stewardship from the National Parks and Conservation Association for his work at Cumberland Island. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and a master's in outdoor recreation from Utah State University.


HOST TRAVEL Park: Hello everyone, we are pleased to welcome you to our chat series "Parks & People Live." The topic of tonight's chat is "Glacier National Park." 
We are honored to have with us Denis Davis, Assistant Superintendent. Denis is talking to us from Glacier National Park. During his 23-year career with the National Park Service, Denis has won a number of awards. He will answer your questions on Glacier and the National Parks in general.
If you have any remaining questions after tonight's chat, please feel free to send them by email to HOST TRAVEL Park. We will get the answers to you by email.
Before we begin, I would like to thank Bill Hayden from Glacier for making this chat possible and HOST TRAVEL Jump for her assistance in tonight's protocol so that the conversation can go smoother. 

So, let us welcome our guests, and begin our session. Mr. Davis, thanks for being our guest tonight.

GlacierNP 2000: Glad to be here.

HOST TRAVEL Park: How is the weather at Glacier?

GlacierNP 2000: Hot for us. Into the 80s during the day and 40s and 50s at night. Now it is clear with a chance of showers. 

PVDandT: Thanks! Going to Glacier 9/2000. My girlfriend is worried about bears on the trail. What does NPS do and what should hikers do for safety in Glacier?

GlacierNP 2000: PVDandT, that is a common question. We have lots of info on bears. See our web site
We recommend that hikers buy and carry bear spray (pepper spray). Don't surprise bears, don't approach them, get info from the park, make noise while on the trail.

CreativeWP: What do you feel is the best time of year to visit?

GlacierNP 2000: Best time to visit depends on what you enjoy doing. But, early fall is a great time to visit if you can come then.

CreativeWP: Photography and hiking

GlacierNP 2000: Photography is great anytime. Plan to get up early to take advantage of morning light. Hiking is good in summer or fall.

JWahlsten: When my wife and I and my mother-in-law were hiking in Yosemite we were going single file down a trail and a bear came around the corner heading right for us. I wanted to run but my mother-on-law (she reads) said no just turn and walk back. Well the faster we walked the faster the bear walked until we came to the dumpster and the bear went for that. We were carrying back packs and we were later told we should have left them on the trail. Should we have?

GlacierNP 2000: JW, No, never leave anything that contains food on the ground or anywhere a bear can get it. If it becomes a life threatening situation then it may be different, but by leaving a pack with food on the ground you are teaching a bear that hikers carry food.

JWahlsten: I wanted to just step to the side of the trail and let the bear pass. We did not have food just extra jackets.

GlacierNP 2000: Just stepping aside may or may not have worked, but what you described makes me think you were just in the way of the path to the dumpster.

Parkslands: What is the current status of the Going To the Sun Road? Major repairs are being considered

LMarksAZ: Don't you think that you will have to make "Going to the Sun Highway" one way very soon?

GlacierNP 2000: Parklands, currently there are repairs to rock walls being done this summer. What we end up doing finally is still under consideration and that decision will not become known for a while yet. 

JWahlsten: I thought the bear was a cub but when I saw it climb on the dumpster it looked vary big to me.

MRBARBIE: Greetings. Can you tell us how the park budget backlog impacts GNP? I'm talking about repairs and maintenance that have been deferred etc.

GlacierNP 2000: Backlog is huge. It does not affect normal day to day operations. We apply for special funding that we compete for within the NPS, or we request line-item construction funding from Congress.

MRBARBIE: Does that mean the NPS just accepts the backlog as permanent?

GlacierNP 2000: Both are difficult to obtain, but we keep trying.

Park StRanger: The Hopi have asked permission to take eagles from Wupatki National Memorial in Arizona, do you feel wildlife in parks should be taken and killed for religious reasons. Should we open our parks to hunters for any reason?

GlacierNP 2000: The NPS has opposed the taking of wildlife, even for religious purposes, but higher authorities made the decision that lead to the Wupatki situation. Hunting in NPS areas is not a matter of opinion, it is determined by the establishing legislation of individual NPS units. Congress makes those decisions.

Ringg4JC: Has the wildlife of the area increased or decreased in the last 10 years?

GlacierNP 2000:
We know that moose populations in the North Fork are increasing. US Geological Survey studies of bear populations using DNA sampling of hair and scat indicate bear populations to be larger than previously thought. I believe the estimate for grizzlies is over 430 now.

Parkslands: There is a report in the news of a major sewage spill. What was the cause? And why did it take so long to be detected?

GlacierNP 2000: We have had two spills this year. Human error was the cause along with old, poorly engineered systems that could even allow such spills to happen. The engineering fix is waiting in our maintenance backlog to be funded.

NPTWRO: Does GNP have any privately owned land within the park and is it threatened by development?

GlacierNP 2000: We have a number of in-holders. No parcels are immediately threatened. However, several in-holders have proposed actions that could threaten park resources/values. We are addressing those individually.

CreativeWP: Is it safe to have an RV there with all the wild animals? And, have you had any instances of RVs being broken into by critters?

GlacierNP 2000: Many visitors feel safer in hard-sided vehicles. The only ones damaged by bears are ones that were filled with good smells.

CreativeWP: LOL, Thank you.

JWahlsten: I have seen pictures where bear have gotten in cars that have left coolers uncovered. So, are you saying not to cook in the RV?

GlacierNP 2000: Tents are safe if visitors follow the directions to keep food away from the sleeping areas.

JJswans: Can Congress force the park service to go against their stated purpose and ideals?

GlacierNP 2000: If they pass a law directing us to go against our mission, yes. And at times they certainly can influence decisions for a variety of reasons.

Parkslands: Some areas of the park are sacred to the BLACKFEET. Does this present any problems in management?

Park StRanger: And should we obey those laws. Should we kill our own bison in Yellowstone to protect cattle ranchers profits?

GlacierNP 2000: There are laws in place that protect their religious activities. They can use the park for such activities. 

HOST TRAVEL Park: How is Glacier different from Yellowstone?

GlacierNP 2000: They are very different parks. Yellowstone has its wildlife, the geysers, the Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Glacier has its wildlife, spectacular mountains, tons of waterfalls, and beautiful streams/lakes.

BLieux: If your RV is damaged by a critter, who is responsible for damages.

GlacierNP 2000: The owner of the vehicle. You could file a tort claim, but I'm not aware of such claims being successful.

JJswans: Does one segment of our society's religious activities mean more than park service mission? Are you not protecting the animals for all of us?

GlacierNP 2000: We are often faced with trying to meet the demands of conflicting laws. Even our NPS Organic Act directs us to preserve the resources unimpaired, while providing for public enjoyment. So we start our park management with a built in contradiction.

Park StRanger: But our first mission remains true, to preserve and protect.

Parkslands: During the GMP process, there was mention of an effort to deal with the problem of animal ingestion of antifreeze and other substances on the roads. Any solutions?

GlacierNP 2000:
Sorry, I'm new enough here that I'm not aware if the staff has worked on such alternatives.

HOST TRAVEL Park: How can private citizens get involved in helping your park? Are there friends groups, volunteer groups?

GlacierNP 2000: Our web site has all of our park partners listed: Glacier Fund, Natural History Association, Glacier Institute, Glacier National Park Associates. We have links to each of their web sites.

CreativeWP: Tell me about some of the special places to see at GNP.

GlacierNP 2000: I could go on for hours. Come and visit and stop in at one of our visitor centers or ranger stations to get ideas. You can't go wrong anywhere here.

CreativeWP: Sounds really great. Thank you.

GlacierNP 2000: See our web site for photos of most areas in Glacier.

HOST TRAVEL Park: Well friends, the scheduled time with our guests is coming to an end. We will take the last one or two more questions now.

MRBARBIE: If you could have the ear of Congress to ask for more funding, what would you say to them?

GlacierNP 2000:
I'm not sure where to begin. Our needs are so great & we have so many projects, repairs, and activities that need done. All are essential if we are to preserve/protect Glacier and provide for our visitors. It is a matter of national priorities, and that is Congress' job to wrestle with.

MRBARBIE: Thank God for the rangers in the parks, they're the glue holding it all together.

Parkslands: While you are new to Glacier, you are to be commended for your fine work at Cumberland Island NS. Glacier NP and the American people are fortunate to have you there now.

GlacierNP 2000: Thanks!

Park StRanger: Best of luck at your assignment Denis.

HOST TRAVEL Park: What is the International Peace Park all about?

GlacierNP 2000: In 1932 Congress, at the prompting of Alberta's and Montana's Rotary Clubs, established Glacier & Waterton as the first International Peace Park. We are still struggling with what that exactly means. In our regular meetings with Waterton's staff, we are addressing that specific issue.

NPTWRO: Are snow mobiles allowed in the park?

HOST TRAVEL Park: Ok, last question would be from NPTWRO

GlacierNP 2000: Snowmobiles are prohibited in Glacier. The issue came to the forefront this past year when an in-holder wanted snowmobile access. That is still in the courts to be resolved.

HOST TRAVEL Park: Our sincere thanks to Denis Davis for taking the time to join us tonight. Hope we will have another opportunity to interact online. 
My thanks also go to Bill Hayden for his assistance in making tonight's chat possible.
Last but not the least, we thank every one in the audience for their participation. Where is every one typing from?
Remember, the Keyword on AOL is PARKS. 

CreativeWP: Yes, thank you both very much. Seattle here

MRBARBIE: Thanks and good luck from California.

Pms52535: Thank you for the info. Washington state here.

PVDandT: Excellent job! thank from NYC. Going to Glacier next month, if anyone is interested, will update them. See you back in this room either way!

HOST TRAVEL Park: Alexandria, VA

HOST TRAVEL Jump: California

RF101WALTZ: Hawaii

Park StRanger: El Paso

Parkslands: NY and NC

NPTWRO: Bye from the Western Regional Office of the National Park Trust, Oregon

HOST TRAVEL Park: Good night, every one!


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