New electric, phone lines proposed for Kelly’s Camp

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One of the few remaining cabins at Kelly’s Camp after the 2018 fires. (File photo/Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News)

Glacier National Park is proposing to extend electric and replace telephone services to the Kelly’s Camp community.

In 2018, the Howe Ridge Fire burned the Kelly’s Camp area, including almost all of the structures. According to the park, the private land owners intend to rebuild beginning this year.

The landowners have requested that the Park Service allow an extension of the underground electrical lines from Park Service-owned Wheeler Camp — where the electrical lines currently end — to Kelly’s Camp, and restoration of the telephone line.

Under the proposal, Flathead Electric would install an underground single phase primary 7,200-volt power cable and conduit at a depth of up to 52 inches for approximately 13,000 feet.

About 94 percent would be installed along the North McDonald Road in the ditch line, 3 percent along other park roadways, and 3 percent on private property. About 40 concrete vaults would be installed along the road for pull points, cabinets and transformers. Telephone line would be laid in the same trench.

This would provide power and restore telephone to 14 private parcels at Kelly’s Camp.

According to the park, the project would result in negligible to minor adverse impacts on vegetation and soils from ground disturbance. Revegetation would be conducted if necessary. The park would require that all equipment and vehicles be cleaned before they enter the park to reduce the spread of invasive species.

According to the park, projects like this typically fall under a categorical exclusion (CE), which covers routine actions that have little to no potential for environmental impacts and no potential for significant adverse impacts. While public involvement is not typical for projects covered under CE’s, the park is notifying the public about this project given the local interest.

Public comments on the proposed project will be accepted through April 1. Comment online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?documentID=93801

Or send comments to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park Attn: Kelly’s Camp 2019, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936, Phone: 406-888-7901

Kelly’s Camp was originally built by Frank and Emmeline Kelly in 1894. In the 1920’s, the Kellys developed a cabin resort for the increasing park visitor traffic through the McDonald Valley. When Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed, a road was built to Kelly’s Camp, allowing the resort to serve auto travelers.

The resort had telephone service but used hydroelectric generators powered by Kelly Creek to provide electricity. After the resort closed, the cabins were purchased by previous resort visitors, who continued to rely on hydroelectric generators for their electrical needs.

Individual landowners each had their own septic systems.

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