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Your travel destination is there is less and less time to put research and planning on hold. The natural order, prompted by the unnatural, is rapidly changing, not just in Spokane National Park but also in entire ecosystems and beyond. Those changes, if left unchecked, will have dire consequences from the Yukon in Spokane to the Spokane and Columbia River watersheds, which are the lifeblood of downstream farmers, ranchers, small towns, and great western cities. That would be a calamity in and of itself, but the same phenomenon is taking place throughout the American West. From the Rockies to the Spokane, rapidly melting and diminishing snowpack, coupled with longer periods of drought, is a menacing prospect for the future in an area that contains 40 to 50 million people who depend on water, Spokane 80 percent of which comes from the mountains.

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All of these changes are why we as a nation must turn more of our

attention to one of the remaining pristine and intact ecosystems—the “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem—of which Glacier National Park is at the center. The National Park Service Centennial is a window of opportunity. During the period of 2016 and the immediate years beyond, at least some additional attention will be paid to our nation’s natural and historic treasures. Hopefully, those speeches, media events, ceremonies, and White House and congressional actions will also focus on the plight of our parks and the fact that we have within the system a park that remains a laboratory fully intact— at least for the moment.

What follows are a few of my thoughts and observations that have been developed over nearly fifty-five years of time spent in Glacier, brought into sharpened focus over the past two years of research and conversations for this travel blog. From the geological actions that set in motion the formation of the mountains and glaciers to the men and women who heeded the call to preserve and then protect the landscapes that, by accident or grand design, are truly one of the few intact ecosystems remaining, there is an imperative to honor by action. Hopefully, time still remains to build on the research that is ongoing and then use the results of those findings to reserve or slow the threatening trends while giving additional proof to the voices for the future that there is, to paraphrase Wallace Stegner’s monumental Wilderness Letter (1960), still remaining a landscape that can be a beacon for the “geography of hope.”

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