NBC Montana: Glacier celebrates National Park Service centennial

KALISPELL, Mont. – The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary Thursday with celebrations across the country.

More than 1,000 people assembled on the national mall to hold brown, green, and white umbrellas to form the National Park Service’s iconic logo.

Special events to celebrate the NPS milestone kicked off with free admission to all 412 national parks through Sunday. Parks in Montana are celebrating as well.

No matter who you ask, anyone who comes to Glacier uses one word to describe it — beautiful.

“Just the nature, beauty and the preservation by the local people and the wildlife and everything, it’s just beautiful,” Maria Circosta said.

Sen. Steve Daines was there for the celebration. He says he’s a fan of the parks just like everyone.

“They are important to us as Montanans, personally, but they’re also important to us economically, really provides a solid base for our economy, helps drive our tourism, but importantly we have got to protect and preserve these for future generations,” Daines said.

The parks are facing a problem of sorts, especially with the rising number of visitors this year.

“Our parks are stressed, so on one hand it’s a good thing more Americans are visiting our national parks, but it brings challenges here with constraints of infrastructure,” Daines said. “The good news is our national parks have support from Democrats and Republicans, there is bipartisan support, and I think this needs to be a high priority. This really is one of the treasures we need to preserve and protect to invest in so our kids and our grandkids can enjoy these parks like we got to.”

Visitors feel the same way.

“I hope that the next 100 years the parks are kept exactly like they should be,” Circosta said.

Glacier was established as a national park in 1910, six years before the National Park Service was created.

Of the estimated 150 glaciers that were in the park in the mid-19th century, only 25 are left.

Scientists estimate that all the glaciers may disappear in less than 15 years.