Glacier Bay National Park - The Traveller

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Glacier Bay National Park


Glacier_Bay_National_Park
Image Credit: National Geographic (By Peter Robertson)
Glacier Bay National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a United State National Park and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is in the Panhandle of the state of Alaska, west of Juneau.

Glacier Bay became part of a bio national UNESCO World Heritage site and inscribed as a Biosphere in 1986 and undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Tlingit Native American organization in handling the protected area, in the year 1994, On February 25, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed this location around Glacier Bay, a national monument under the Antiquities Act and subsequent to an extension of the monument in 1978, by President Jimmy Carter, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act – ANILCA, on December 2, 1980, increased the national monument by 534,000 acres, the process of which give rise to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with around 57,000 additional acres of public land.

This has been preserved as national preserve to the northwest of the park to protect an area of the Alsek River together with related fish and wildlife habitat at the time of sport hunting. The park is known for its massive glaciers as well as a remarkable destination for those interested in wildlife, kayaking or seeking to find a relaxing atmosphere.

First Surveyed in 1794 – Team of H.M.S. Discovery

The park comprises of snow-capped mountain ranges which rise to over 15,000 feet, with coastal beaches together with protected coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, coastal and estuarine waters as well as freshwater lakes.

Sculpted, steep peaks, rock strewn valley indicate glacial activity, marking the advances and retreats of glaciers which date back over 115,000 years to prior to the Wisconsin Ice Age. The ocean waves lash the beaches of the wild and remote Gulf of Alaska coast and between the coast and the bay, snow clad peaks of Fair weather Range draws the moisture that comes in from the Gulf of Alaska spawns the park’s largest glaciers. Towards the base of these huge peaks lie the deglaciered foothills and plains which spread the greenery around once the ice retreats, portraying an awesome spectacle of nature.

The park and the preserve cover an area of 5,130 square mile and the major part of the Glacier Bay is designated as wilderness area covering around 4,164 square miles.The Glacier Bay was first surveyed in 1794 by a team from the H.M.S. Discovery and headed by George Vancouver.

 The survey indicated a mere indentation in the shoreline and the massive glacier was over 4,000 feet thick in some places and up to 20 miles wide, extending over 100 miles towards the St, Elias mountain range.

Discovered in 1879 – John Muir

Towards 1879, it was discovered by John Muir when the ice had retreated to over 30 miles and formed a bay and by 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier which was the main glacier credited with carving the bay, melted back 60 miles to what is presently the Tarr Inlet.

Great efforts were taken by Muir and other conservationist to protect Glacier Bay and in 1925; President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation making Glacier Bay National Monument. The monument, at that point of time covered less than half the area of the current park.

 The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservations Act, in the year 1980, elevated the monument to the national park status as well as extended the park boundary northwest to the Alsek River and Dry Bay which gave rise to further recognition and protection of Glacier Bay’s significance, when the Glacier Bay Admiralty Island Biosphere Reserve, in 1986, was established under the United Nations Man and the Biosphere Program.

 The Glacier Bay became a part of an international World Heritage Site in 1992 together with neighbouring Wrangell-St-Elias National Park and Preserve as well as Canada’s Kluane National Pa.

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