Did Sen Tester tell Glacier NP Superintendent to stop pushing for Wilderness?

Some of you may remember that a few years ago the superintendent of Glacier National Park, Chas Cartwright, was very proactive in pushing for Wilderness designation. This is a snip from an article in the fall of 2009:

Cartwright said wilderness inside Glacier, and all national parks, is not a new idea. He said park managers were asked decades ago to identify possible wilderness areas within Glacier’s boundaries. “That went to President Nixon 35 years ago,” he said. Nixon recommended to the Congress to affirm those designations, but Congress has not acted on that recommendation in almost two generations. “Thirty-five years is a long time to wait,” he said. His comments were the second time in two days that Cartwright has publicly pushed for park wilderness.

Shortly after these statements supporting Wilderness designation for portions of Glacier National Park, all of a sudden, the effort just seemed to evaporate and Superintendent Cartwright stopped talking about the idea.  Well, a forest scientist that I work very closely with might have found the reason why.

When this forest scientist talked with some Glacier National Park staff last year, this topic came up and their understanding was that Senator Tester had directly approached Superintendent Cartwright and “asked” him to stop pursuing the Wilderness idea because Senator Tester felt it would complicate his efforts to push the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act through Congress.

Is this perhaps yet another example of where politics – especially election-year politics – get in the way of good public lands policy? I mean, who could seriously be against Wilderness designation for the wildest, most spectacular parts of Glacier National Park?

3 thoughts on “Did Sen Tester tell Glacier NP Superintendent to stop pushing for Wilderness?”

  1. Matt: I prefer Park over Wilderness by a large margin, and for lots of good reasons — largely based on the histories of each when compared to current conditions. So that’s one more vote against. I’m sure there are others.

  2. Bob: I think you may not understand that this is not an either/or situation between National Parks and Wilderness. Fact is, right now 44 million acres of America’s designated Wilderness areas are in National Parks. However, not one acre of Glacier National Park in Montana is currently designated Wilderness.

    Below are some examples….


    “In 1974, a wilderness study was submitted to Congress which identified 95% of the area of [Glacier National Park] as qualifying for wilderness designation. Unlike a few other parks, Glacier National Park has yet to be protected as wilderness, but National Park Service policy requires that identified areas listed in the report be managed as wilderness until Congress renders a full decision. Ninety-three percent of Glacier National Park is managed as wilderness, even though it has not been officially designated”




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