Geohazard Perception in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA




DeChano, Lisa Marie

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Natural hazards occur in a variety of settings including protected natural areas such as national parks. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine geohazard perceptions of three main groups of people (pilot project group, park employees, and park visitors) in Glacier National Park (GNP), Montana, USA. The geohazards under investigation are rockfalls, landslides, floods, snow avalanches, and strong damaging winds. The three hypotheses structured this study: 1) No differences in perceived hazard location exist among groups of respondents (pilot project group, GNP employees, and GNP visitors) in Glacier National Park; 2) No differences exist between group-perceived hazard location and the location of actual hazard events; and 3) No differences in hazard perception exist as a result of demographic characteristics. The pilot project respondent group included geographers who do or did research in GNP and the field assistants that aided them, as well their family members who have visited the Park. A questionnaire was utilized to obtain information about each respondent concerning demographics, knowledge of geohazards in general, knowledge of GNP, and perceptions of each of the five hazards in GNP. GNP archive material and the Hungry Horse News, a newspaper published in nearby Columbia Falls, Montana, provided historical data for a comprehensive chronology of all five geohazards. A geographic information system (GIS) was used to create isohaz maps for each hazard and each respondent group depicting areas of hazard agreement among respondents within the group. Results showed that hazard perceptions were not the same across respondents groups. Differences in hazard perception differed among respondent groups and among hazards for both perceived locations and when those perceived locations were compared with actual event locations. Demographics had an influence on geohazard perception, although it was apparent that a combination of two or more variables, not one single variable, was responsible for these differences. Based on these results, all three of the hypotheses under investigation were rejected.



Glacier National Park, natural disasters, risk perception


DeChano, L.M. (2000). Geohazard perception in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (Unpublished dissertation). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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