Permit for Emergency Avalanche Mitigation

By | March 9, 2014

BNSF Railway has requested and received a special-use permit from Glacier National Park to conduct emergency avalanche hazard mitigation activities in an area along the southern boundary of the park. Avalanche mitigation activities will take place in the John F. Stevens Canyon area along the US Highway 2 Corridor. Recent avalanche activity in this area prompted the railroad to request the permit due to the safety of BNSF Railway employees and passengers aboard trains.

Glacier National Park Superintendent said, “We are working with BNSF Railway to create safe conditions for their employees and passengers along the southern boundary of the park, and will continue to work with them to find long-term solutions.”

The permit only allows the use of hand charger devices, an avalauncher or explosive charges delivered by a helicopter, and only during daylight hours. The planned mitigation activity is the use of a Daisy Bell. This avalanche mitigation technique uses a cylinder suspended from a helicopter that can be accurately positioned above the snowpack. It uses a small, controlled pressure wave from the sudden combustion of hydrogen to trigger the snow.

Mow said that BNSF Railway plans to initiate activities today, which will include closing US Highway 2 to through traffic during this time. For updated information on avalanche hazard mitigation activities and related activities along the southern border of Glacier National Park, please contact the railroad at 406-589-6891 or at Visit the Montana Department of Transportation website for road closures at

Mow said, “This year’s highly variable weather conditions are resulting in an unstable snowpack and several uncommon events across Montana.” It is anticipated that recent weather has contributed to snow slides throughout the park, including one near the Goat Lick area south of the park. Blocked drainages are of concern and the park plans to begin some monitoring throughout the park to identify these situations. If anyone has any information on any snow slides or related activities within the park, please contact park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Please visit the Flathead Avalanche Center website at for information about advisories, avalanche, snow pack and mountain weather information, as well as basic avalanche awareness and education.

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Patti Hart is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Patti lives on the North Fork during the summers and travels the world for the rest of the year, updating NFNews every day wherever there is an internet connection.