Aug 30, 2013

7 More National Parks Threatened by Fire

Saint Mary Lake, Montana
USA
by
Jeremy Schulman
,
Mother Jones
Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo: Shutterstock
Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo: Shutterstock

It's well known that this park's iconic glaciers are threatened by climate change. But officials at the park—in Montana's northern Rockies, along the Canadian border—are also concerned about the potential for increasing fires. According to a park service publication, temperatures in the Glacier area increasing nearly twice as fast as the global average. The heat, combined with decreased snowfall and other factors, could cause an "increase in frequency, size, and intensity of wildfires." Glacier officials are worried that warmer weather is worsening insect infestations—which in turn might weaken trees and make them more vulnerable to fire. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report:

[P]ark staff said additional funding could be used to address increased western spruce budworm infestations. This insect normally infests trees for 3 years, but due to temperature increases, its infestation period has lengthened to 7 to 15-year cycles, according to park managers. As a result, hundreds of forested acres of Glacier National Park have been weakened, which could increase their susceptibility to fires.