American Wildfire Forces Canadian National Park to Shut Down

The Howe Ridge Fire, one of a number of fires burning in Glacier National Park. The Boundary Fire has forced evacuations in next door Waterton Lakes National Park.
The Howe Ridge Fire, one of a number of fires burning in Glacier National Park. The Boundary Fire has forced evacuations in next door Waterton Lakes National Park.
Image: Inciweb

Canada and the U.S. share a lot of things, chief among them a border. To commemorate said border, there’s a peace park that ceremonially joins Glacier National Park in the U.S. and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.


But our peaceful relations have been riled up by the hellacious wildfire season. On Thursday, the Boundary Fire ignited in Glacier. The blaze ballooned to 1,250 acres by Friday, and its march threatened Waterton Lakes enough that practically the entire 124,800-acre park has now been evacuated.

“The wildfire was exhibiting extreme behaviour caused by strong winds and dry fuel,” Parks Canada said in a statement on Friday.

The agency said on Friday that it had dispatched helicopters and an attack team in an effort to tamp down the fire, but the efforts have been unsuccessful so far. In its statement, it labeled the status of the fire “out of control.” With the fire’s continued growth largely unchecked, the agency decided it was safer to close the entire park save the townsite area and highways that run briefly through the eastern edge of the park. Those areas remain under an evacuation alert.

This is Waterton Lakes’ second brush with flames in as many years. Last year’s Kenow Fire burned about 40 percent of the park, including 80 percent of the trail network. The park was evacuated last year, which is why visitors were understandably on edge when news of the Boundary Fire ignited south of the park on Thursday.

“Some of them were here last year, so it’s kind of like PTSD for everyone around here from last year’s evacuation,” Jeanne Aldrich, a local innkeeper, told the CBC. “We’re feeling very on alert. I don’t know if anyone got any sleep last night.”

The Boundary Fire is one of a handful burning in Glacier National Park right now. The biggest is the Howe Ridge Fire, which lit up two weeks ago and has since scorched over 10,802 acres while remaining only 10 percent contained. That fire closed portions of Glacier National Park and led to harrowing footage of tourists forced to hastily flee the flames.


And then there’s the bigger picture with fires blazing across western North America. Huge conflagrations in British Columbia turned day into night last week, and Northern California has been burnt to a crisp. This isn’t even the first time this summer national parks have had to close due to dangerous fire conditions.

Climate change has contributed to an uptick in fire-prone conditions across the West by both lengthening the fire season and making large fires more common. You can add ruining vacations to the growing list of impacts, too.


Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


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Let’s look at this like a process engineer wood would. Here’s a cool report from USFS published in April of 2018 on feedstocks (timber) for Montana. Or “might as well log that shit before mother nature burns it all up.”

Logging Utilization in Montana, 2011–2016

It’s a typical just the facts, mam report so there’s no purple prose and pictures of kids - who are truly our greatest resource. There’s no conclusions except the old “make of it what you want” so it’s just an accounting of forest feedstock for mills.

Montana forested lands:

Ownership class of forested land or as a small miller out of say Whitefish who’s tight with Ryan Zinke would say, “fuck the feds, we want that shit.

Anyone still wondering why Ryan Zinke was put in charge of DoI? Especially when folks like Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia Pacific are seeing less wood production from their private lands.

Looks like tree huggers put the kibosh on logging on federal lands. The graph below indicates there is less and less logging on federal land and private land logging ain’t what it use to be.

Christ, this is just going to get messier and messier until we reach full out hothouse conditions. Then its recovery time for mother earth. Stressing of natural resources tend to stress out humans. Humans tend to clump into tribes when stressed. People outside their tribe are considered the other and fair game. A tribe will either lash out or look to victimhood as a means of survival. This assumes others give a shit about their tribe and aren’t stressing out themselves.