Abstract for: Modeling Support for National Park Planning: Initial Results from a Case Study of Glacier National Park

This paper describes the role of systems modeling in the National Parks. The parks have been described as America’s Best Idea, and they are celebrating their 100th year anniversary. Systems thinking and systems dynamics can help the parks plan for the second century. The paper begins by contrasting the system perspective with the focus on external factors that often dominates park discussions. The paper then reviews the extensive use of models for parks around the world. The review is conducted with an eye toward the best role for system dynamics. A system dynamics based, integrated modeling system is proposed to address both short-term operations and long-term visitor management. The paper describes initial steps to create such a system at Washington State University. The main case study simulates operational issues at Glacier National Park. The model simulates vehicles, buses and people in the heavily used Going to the Sun Road corridor for a typical day in July. The model is used to show the simulated impacts from the park’s shuttle system. The Glacier study demonstrates that system dynamics can address concrete operational questions while providing support for the development of a long-term model for visitor management.