Tourists create a logjam at Glacier National Park

Tourists create a logjam at Glacier National Park

With only one entrance open to Glacier National Park, outdoors-eager visitors have faced long lines to get to the wilderness in this corner of northwestern Montana. Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription. As Montana warily reopened last month to pandemic-weary tourists, an isolated community held firm with closures and stay-at-home orders. Few outsiders would have paid much attention but for one detail: The Blackfeet Nation borders Glacier National Park, and its decision blocked access to much of the vast wilderness there. The result this month has meant throngs of visitors crowding into a tiny corner of Glacier — a crown jewel of the park system — with long lines of cars at what is now the only entry point. And the bottleneck won't disappear anytime soon. Tribal leaders recently announced they would keep the eastern entrances and roads to Glacier, which lie on reservation land, closed at least through August. "Our No. 1 objective is to keep people alive," said Robert DesRosier, who leads the tribe's COVID-19 incident response team. "We don't want one person to die. Our elders are the keepers of the culture, and we can't afford to lose them." The Blackfeet's fears are well-founded. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has ravaged some Native American communities. In Montana, state data show that more than a third of the people ...
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