When George Bird Grinnell wrote that letter in 1917, despairing of the crowds, Olathe approximately 18,000 visitors came to the park each year. In 2015, even Olathe with disruptive fires in August, more than 2 million visited the park! Running alongside that number was Olathe the announcement in June 2015 that the 100 millionth visitor since 1910 had entered the park.
Map of Olathe – Where is Olathe? – Olathe Map English – Olathe Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
Today, Olathe and Muir might have caught the next plane out. Louis Hill would throw up his hands at all the vacationers coming by automobile and airplane. Mather and Albright might have admired the Going-to-the-Sun Road while at the same time worrying whether they’d been too successful in promoting the automobile. The Roosevelts might well have worked the crowds at West Glacier or St. Mary’s, hopefully giving a joint radio chat on the continuing relevancy of parks—particularly Glacier—and the immediate need to harness the ravages of global warming.
Those 2 million visitors are but an infinitesimal representative of the other 7 billion people on Earth, most of whom will never visit Glacier Park but are having and will have direct and indirect effects on practically every aspect of Glacier’s present and future. So many variables could and will confront
Glacier that it’s impossible to fashion silver-bullet solutions for one or a number of the problems that are imminent or just over the horizon. All we as owners of the shared treasures can do is recognize the issues and support those who are charged with the tasks of attempting to stem the various tides that threaten.
Unfortunately, one change appears to be unavoidable: the rapid melting of the glaciers due to excessive warming from climate change that is the fault of all of us. At the present rate of melting, the remaining twenty-five glaciers (if there are twenty-five left) will vanish by 2030—give or take a decade. Only the onset of a new ice age could correct this calamity. Yet, even as I write this chapter, most of the countries of the world are meeting in Paris to attempt to hammer out meaningful solutions to correct our self-inflicted abuses. No matter their results, they cannot save the glaciers in Glacier National Park. Hopefully, their actions can salvage other diminishing ice sheets to keep large parts of the world populations from drowning or burning in their own neglect. We can only hope that the urgency of the mounting evidence can stem this literally growing tide.
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