Wildfire and Smoke Communication Guidelines: 2018

2018 Wildfire and Smoke Communication Guidelines

Communication Guidelines for Wildfire Updates

Glacier Country Tourism and our joint communications partners have drafted language over the past several wildfire seasons to help avoid cancellations of future reservations and to help visitors enjoy their visit if a wildfire causes temporary closures or smoke conditions in the Glacier Country region. Prior to any potential crisis, it is always good to review protocols should a wildfire begin to impact our visitors.

There are several wildfires in the region currently impacting visitors with temporary closures and smoke in the region.

The majority of Glacier National Park is open. Open areas include Apgar, Fish Creek, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier and the North Fork.

The Howe Ridge fire is burning in less than 1% of Glacier’s 1 million acres. The temporary closure area for public safety and fire suppression access is approximately 93,500 acres, or less than 10% of the Park’s massive size. However, approximately half of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is under temporary closure on the west side impacting visitor access.

  • Visitors may travel 2 miles from West Glacier to the foot of Lake McDonald at Apgar on the Going to the Sun Road.
  • 29.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is currently closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass.
  • 18.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open from St. Mary to Logan Pass on the east side.
  • The Logan Pass Visitor Center is open daily from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

Please remember to check the fire information sites below for current information. Current fire conditions are considered extreme. Please see guidelines below to assist visitors with information.

Check current Air Quality.

Historically many wildfires have been human-caused, so reminders for guests to practice fire safety are important. While recreating, people are encouraged to:

  • Stay on designated roads and avoid parking on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildfire.
  • Campers are reminded to never leaving a campfire unattended, and make sure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the site.
  • Extinguish and properly dispose of cigarette butts. Do not throw them out the window!
  • Follow Montana State Fire Restrictions. What Fire Restrictions Mean To You

Communications Guidelines for Wildfire and Smoke Crisis:

  • State the facts only, do not make any assumptions and avoid any drama.
  • Always emphasize what is open first, and then list what is closed.
  • Use words like “temporary” and “currently” and “precautionary” when describing conditions and closures.
  • Give perspective on what is open: Glacier National Park is over a million acres. Use percentages like “90 acres or less than 1 percent of Glacier National Park is currently closed for wildfire management.”
  • Point visitors to activities and sightseeing options outside of any closed areas. Show visitors on a map other areas to explore, especially local activity options such as the state parks, downtowns and musuems.
  • Explain any closures are for public safety and to allow resources access to fight the fire. If it’s open, it’s safe. Note, these closures change often.
  • Smoke comes and goes with the intensity of fire and weather patterns. If air quality becomes poor and “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” update visitors with current conditions by providing link to Flathead Health Department Air Quality: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/
  • Suggest indoor activities such as favorite shops and restaurants to check out, brewery and distillery tours, museums, art studios, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas, etc. Find more info here: http://glaciermt.com/outside-glacier-park
  • Avoid sharing photos or news of fires on your personal or company social media channels. Instead show the beauty and other activities still available, and point visitors to what they can do.
  • New for 2018! Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development (MOTBD) will be posting frequent updates on TravelAware.MT.gov, providing useful information when there are fire and smoke conditions impacting the visitor experience including: latest activity, webcams, air quality, fire restrictions and quick links to additional resources. This site also includes a statewide list of indoor activities to reference when air quality is of concern.

Visitors can stay up to date using Glacier National Park’s twitter page and web site road update page:

Additional regional resources with pertinent information:

Glacier National Park Webcams

Glacier National Park Conservancy

Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau (Explore Whitefish)

Kalispell Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

Wildfire Season Do’s and Don’ts 2018

Tips for Communicating About Fire