WEST GLACIER – The creator of Glacier National Park’s “Bark Ranger” program is being recognized for excellence on a national level.
Natural Resources Program Manager Mark Biel, who launched the program, has been awarded the 2017 National Park Service Director’s Award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resource Stewardship.
The program funded through private donations to the Glacier National Park Conservancy launched in 2016 and uses a trained border collie, Gracie, to move bighorn sheep and mountain goats out of areas of high visitor use, such as the Logan Pass parking lot.
Biel says as visitation continues to rise, the animals have become habituated, adding that the program also gives him the chance to talk about the importance of wildlife safety with visitors, schools, and community groups.
Biel says winning the award was a “team effort” and he’s grateful to park leadership and the Glacier National Park Conservancy for their support.
He won the regional award last November and competed with finalists from six other regions for the national award. Biel is also being recognized for his work in dark sky conservation, and mountain goat research.
-Nicole Miller reporting for MTN News