Park service mulls changes to management plan as Exit Glacier recedes

A glacier with a mountain behind it mostly hidden in fog
Exit Glacier has retreated so much that the management plan made in 2004 no longer makes sense for that part of the park. (Sabine Poux/KDLL)

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

That year was 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 so quickly that parts of the park that were once prime for glacier viewing aren’t anymore.

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. But the glacier has been receding so quickly that the National Park Service now says it’s no longer feasible to add new trails to account for the shift, as it’s done in the past.

The park says it’s considering new visitor facilities and modified rules for where visitors can walk, which would move as the glacier recedes. It says 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 park service published a guide for parks to consider those forces and manage accordingly.

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

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