BNSF Wasting Time in Glacier

BNSF TrainA quick story today. You may have already heard that Burlington Northern wants to fire explosive shells into Glacier National Park to bring down avalanches in a controlled manner. The idea is so stupid. Using explosives to control avalanches is not new, it is done all the time, but never in a protected sanctuary like the parks. But, BNSF proposed the idea anyway, even though their trains have made it through just fine using alternative methods for many many years. In response to the BNSF proposal, the Park Service has had to waste their time (and our money) proposing an alternative plan to the train company. I wonder how much extra effort was needed by Glacier officials to create the environmental impact statement which identifies the obvious: BNSF, you can't blow up live ammo in the backcountry, duh! Here's a brief snippit from the story which appears in the Missoulian yesterday:
WEST GLACIER - Glacier National Park officials have balked at a proposal by railroaders that would have protected train tracks from avalanches by bombing the park's wilderness backcountry.

Instead, park officials recommend that Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad build snowsheds over the line, noting that 'historically, the railroad constructed snowsheds in this area to protect trains.'

That's according to a draft environmental impact statement released this week, in response to a BNSF request to conduct avalanche blasting within Glacier.

The controversial proposal drew fire from many critics, including Steve Thompson of the National Parks Conservation Association.

After an initial review of the park's snowshed recommendation, Thompson applauded the decision, saying 'it's really very consistent with the Park Service mission.'

Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF, said the company had not yet had time to carefully analyze the lengthy document.

Clearly, however, the snowshed recommendation fell far short of the railroad's initial request.
If you hadn't caught it in previous stories on this topic, here are a couple numbers to consider. Building the snow sheds to protect the trains would cost about $5.5 million dollars. Yes, that is a lot of money, but consider that BNSF in 2005 saw revenues of $13 billion dollars! These guys can afford the snow sheds. By pushing this bad bombing option on the parks, they are wasting the stretched resources of Glacier personnel, and in turn, our tax dollars.
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