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According to Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist in residence at Glacier National Park, Montana’s melting glaciers are ahead of schedule. The Park’s ice was originally predicted to melt away by 2030. Now Fagre says a better guess is 2020, a full ten years earlier, if they last that long.
According to an article in National Geographic News, the disappearance of Glacier Park’s ice, which is the source of many of its lakes, streams and rivers and an ecosystems for many of the parks sensitive and rare plants, will be fatal for flora and fauna. Melting glaciers will open more growing area for plants in the short term, but dried up rivers and streams will mean die-offs for some fish and alpine plants.
“For some aquatic species,” said Fagre. “You only have to dry up once and you’re history.”
The effects can be seen in Snyder Creek, which runs alongside Lake McDonald Lodge. In 2007, for the first time, the river didn’t reach the Lake.
“The water bugs that live there will not do well,” Fagre said in a 2007 article in the Missoulian, “and neither will the species that eat them.”
One of the species that is most affected: the bull trout, which needs cold water to live, and strong fall river flows to spawn.
Glaciers in the Park have shrank 67 percent in the past hundred years.