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Businesses on Glacier NP's east side navigate tricky path toward reopening

KALISPELL — Public access to Glacier National Park’s east entrances has been prohibited since last March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with tribal, state, local, and federal officials reaching a consensus to maintain the closure even after other areas of the park reopened in order to safeguard vulnerable members of the Blackfeet Nation.

That same spirit of consensus will inform when, if and how the famed park’s eastern boundary reopens prior to this summer, according to park officials. And while public health experts from the National Park Service, Glacier County, the state of Montana, the Indian Health Service, and the Blackfeet Tribe have developed a “workgroup” to identify health and safety benchmarks that, once reached, would allow for a safe reopening, the mood is tense among gateway hospitality businesses who depend on visitation to the park’s eastern entrances as their livelihood.

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