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Park mulls changes to management plan as Exit Glacier recedes

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Exit Glacier has shrunk by more than 2,300 feet since 2004.

That was also the last time Kenai Fjords National Park created a management plan for that part of the park. In it, park officials said a big draw of the glacier was that visitors could walk right up and touch it.

That’s not possible anymore. Exit Glacier has been receding quickly, and touching the glacier’s toe from the trails is no longer an option. Parts of the park that were once prime for glacier viewing are no longer.

To account for those changes, Kenai Fjords National Park is updating its management plan for the area. And it’s asking for input from the public on what it would like to see from a new park plan.

Exit Glacier, just west of Seward, is the most accessible part of the 1,000-square-mile Kenai Fjords National Park. The glacier is receding at an accelerating rate and the parks service said it’s no longer feasible to add in new trails to account for the shift, like it’s done in the past.

The park said it's considering new visitor facilities and modified rules for where visitors can walk that would move as the glacier recedes. It said a new management plan would be in place for the next 10 to 20 years.

Kenai Fjords is not the only national park that’s had to adjust its management style to account for climate change. Last year, the National Park Service published a guide for parks to consider those forces and manageaccordingly.

You can provide input on a new plan for Kenai Fjords at until Feb. 18.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
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