February 2, 2006
Glacier National Park is proposing to make improvements to the water, sewer and propane utility systems at the Belly River Ranger Station Historic District. The existing systems are obsolete, inadequate, and environmentally unsafe. They were installed between 1927 and 1959, the same period the buildings were constructed. The park proposes to replace the existing water line, construct a central septic system, and construct a central propane system.
The Water System. The current water system functions by taking water from a nearby stream and piping it downhill to the ranger station and two other buildings. The line provides sufficient water to these buildings for park operations and residential use, but does not have enough flow to provide adequate fire protection. The joints on the galvanized pipe have also failed or are failing due to corrosion. The proposed replacement line would generally follow the existing route, grade, and depth. The average trench would be approximately 2'X 2' and approximately 2500' long. Most of the route would follow an existing trail.
The Sewer System. There are three existing sewer systems which serve three buildings all of which are substandard or have failed. All three septic tanks (cesspools) do not have leach field disposal lines. Two systems are located within 15 feet of a stream. Sewage surfaces on the ground from one system and has food nutrients that attract wildlife. Employee health and potential water pollution are of concern. The proposal would connect the three buildings into a single septic tank system and leach field. A new system would require approximately 1000 feet of 2' X 2' trenches.
The Propane System. Currently, there are three separate fuel systems for each of the three buildings and propane bottles are stored in a fourth building. Safety is the primary issue with the current system. The park proposes to construct a central storage area and pipe propane from there to each building. Approximately 40 feet of propane lines would be buried.
An early step in the National Park Service (NPS) planning process is to involve the public. Due to the amount of disturbance being proposed in a culturally rich area in the backcountry, the NPS intends to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA). We are requesting your comments to identify issues and alternatives that should be addressed in the EA being prepared for this project.
Comments can be provided directly through the park's planning website (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkId=61)
by selecting this project. Or write to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Belly River Utility EA, West Glacier, Montana 59936. Comments are due by March 17, 2006.
Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would withhold from the record a respondent's identity as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
Thank you very much for your continued support and interest in Glacier National Park.
/s/ Michael Holm
Michael O. Holm