|Spend the time||outdoors|
|Location||Montana United States Montana United States Glacier National Park|
|Appropriate for kids||yes|
Appropriate hiking gear. Daypack with safety essentials. Participants must provide own transportation. Compass, binoculars, global positioning system (GPS) device, and spotting scoops are provided.
High Country Citizen Science Project
|Help Glacier Park biologists monitor status of alpine wildlife|
|Collect data on mountain goats, bighorn sheep and pikas|
The High Country Citizen Science Project trains citizen scientists to participate in back-country surveys to collect data on the number and distribution of mountain goats, bighorn sheep and pikas, three species of concern in the high country of Montana's Glacier National Park. This contribution will enable the park to more effectively manage these species and their habitats.
Concern about wildlife in Glacier’s alpine and sub-alpine areas is growing. High country habitats are highly vulnerable to impacts from climate change and invasions of insects and plant diseases. Mountain goat and pika population declines have been documented in areas outside of Glacier. The primary goal of the project is to collect baseline information about population size and distribution and to monitor population trend over time.
Participants attend a one-day classroom and field-based education program. Participants learn about species identification, management concerns, and how to observe and document observations of each species. They also learn how to use field equipment such as spotting scopes, compasses, and global positioning system (GPS) units. Once trained, participants select survey sites from a list of mapped locations and hike to sites to conduct a one hour observational survey on mountain goats and bighorn sheep or pikas. Hiking distances vary between 3 to 15 miles one way. During pika surveys participants traverse talus (boulder) fields looking under rocks for signs of pikas.
Since 2005, the Glacier National Park Citizen Science program has engaged trained park visitors, staff, and volunteers to collect scientific information that would otherwise be unavailable to resource managers and researchers due to lack of personnel or funding. For citizen scientists, the rewards are a sense of stewardship and a greater awareness and understanding of the park’s resource issues. For the park, it provides a wealth of data that can be used to increase understanding of our natural resources, offering an opportunity to get much-needed baseline information about key plant and animal species.