Highly localized smoke conditions create hazard for lodge employees


(WEST GLACIER) Xanterra Parks and Resorts has decided to close Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park for the season Wednesday, August 30 due to air quality concerns from the Sprague Fire and other regional fires. The Sprague Fire is located approximately two miles from the Lake McDonald Lodge area.

The Sprague Fire is not currently and has not been a threat to the Lake McDonald developed area. However, heavy smoke from the fire has been settling in a highly localized area around the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Out of concern for employee safety, Glacier National Park Lodges (Xanterra Parks and Resorts) will close overnight accommodations, retail, and food and beverage services at the Lake McDonald Lodge area. Because employees work and live onsite they have a longer duration exposure to the air conditions. The lodge was expected to close September 27 for the season. Visitors with reservations for Lake McDonald Lodge should contact Glacier National Park Lodges ONLINE, or call 1-855-733-4522.

No other visitor services in the Lake McDonald area are being adjusted at this time. Red bus tours that typically stop at Lake McDonald Lodge will have their routes adjusted slightly.

At the request of the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service installed an air quality monitoring station at Lake McDonald Lodge on August 27, 2017. Two days of data indicate air quality levels have fluctuated between “good” and beyond the uppermost limit of “hazardous.” The hazardous air quality readings have occurred in the evening and earlier morning hours.

The park maintains an air quality monitoring station in Apgar. Those readings have fluctuated between “good” and “moderate” for the same period, further supporting the observation that poor air quality appears to be concentrated in a very small geographic area of the park near the Lake McDonald Lodge area.

The public can access the air quality monitoring station at Lake McDonald Lodge and state air quality information at the following sites. For an air quality index, click HERE. For Lake McDonald Lodge air monitor, click HERE. For Montana smoke readings, click HERE.

Visitors can also view the park’s webcams to get a visual sense of air quality at many locations across the park. Fire officials expect the Sprague Fire will continue to burn until the area receives significant precipitation later this fall.

Glacier National Park is over one million acres in size. The smoke impacts from the Sprague Fire and other regional fires affect only a small portion of the park. All other frontcountry park facilities are open.

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