Introduction to Glacier National Park

  • Stephen R. Kessell
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


An Act of the United States Congress in 1910 established 401 000 ha of wilderness astride the continental divide in northwestern Montana as Glacier National Park. It is a land of dense forests on the lower mountain slopes, with scattered prairie remnants and intrusions, giving way to subalpine mosaics and alpine tundra at the higher elevations. Alpine lakes, rock outcrops, talus slides, luxurious meadows, sparkling streams, permanent snowfields, and over 50 active mountain glaciers dot the high country. Lower forests give way to occasional meadows and marshes and exhibit a diverse mosaic of secondary successional patterns. Known as “The Crown of the Continent,” Glacier is noted for its rugged majesty and wilderness solitude and includes some of North America’s most spectacular scenery. Over a thousand species of vascular plants occur within the park (Kessell 1974); common mammals include the mule and white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, grizzly bear, lynx, mountain lion, and marmot (Bailey 1918). Small populations of the timber wolf, wolverine, and fisher still exist within the park (Singer 1975a). Quite remarkably, notwithstanding extensive management and mismanagement since 1910, much of Glacier’s native biota has been maintained, despite the obvious alterations to its pristine ecosystems that have been caused by human activity.


Black Bear Alpine Tundra Bighorn Sheep Grizzly Bear Continental Divide 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen R. Kessell
    • 1
  1. 1.Gradient Modeling, Inc.MissoulaUSA

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