Habitat Project:

Glacier Gateway

Maintaining public access and habitat connectivity in the North Fork Valley west of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park peaks from North Fork Valley

Photo by Mitch Doherty

North Fork Flathead River
North Fork Flathead River

Photo by Mitch Doherty

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains
Grizzly sow and cub in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park peaks from North Fork Valley North Fork Flathead River North Fork Flathead River Hiking in the Rocky Mountains Grizzly sow and cub in Glacier National Park

Glacier Gateway PROJECT BRIEF

In 2019, Glacier National Park hosted more than 3 million visitors. In 2020, Montana’s housing market boomed, with a recent Housing Heat Index report from Bankrate ranking the state second nationally behind Utah for market growth.

Combine these pressures—tourism and new real estate development—and the region’s rural character and wildlife can quickly lose out. As valleys fill and recreation hotspots clog, the pace and impact of human activity intensifies and animals are forced to move and adapt.

It adds up to an urgent need to conserve the right pieces of land: keystone corridors, often across valley bottoms that link mountain strongholds, the channels that give wildlife the chance to continue moving around the landscape while also spacing out development in and around rural communities.

Vital Ground and the Flathead National Forest helped solidify just such a corridor with the purchase of 10 acres bordering public lands along the North Fork of the Flathead River, just west of Glacier National Park near Polebridge. Utilizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Glacier Gateway project maintains public access to one of the national park system’s crown jewels while also protecting an important habitat connection for grizzly bears, elk, wolverine and numerous other wildlife species.

“We are fortunate to have partnered with Vital Ground on this conservation acquisition in an area of such high ecological importance,” says the Forest Service’s Hungry Horse and Glacier View District Ranger, Rob Davies. “It is a privilege to be able to manage this land for wildlife benefit, Wild and Scenic River values, and public use for generations to come.”

Read more…

  • 10-acre partner project with Flathead National Forest
  • Key parcel surrounded by public lands in popular tourist destination
  • Located along North Fork Flathead River just west of Glacier National Park
  • Limiting subdivision in North Fork Valley crucial to habitat connectivity