Sperry rebuild to receive $12 million

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The effort to rebuild Glacier National Park’s Sperry Chalet will receive $12 million in federal money, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday. The money for Sperry is a part of more than $256 million in approved funding to rebuild critical national park infrastructure nationwide.

Glacier’s historic chalet burned in last summer’s Sprague Fire.

Glacier National Park Conservancy Executive Director Doug Mitchell told the Inter Lake that the Interior’s announcement wasn’t unexpected, but good to hear nonetheless.

“We knew the government had to be a lead on this and we are prepared to be a major part of this as it moves forward,” Mitchell said. “Many people have been involved in this great process and we’re honored to be the philanthropic partner in this public-private project.”

Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow has estimated the cost to rebuild Sperry to be between $8 million and $12 million. According to Glacier spokesperson Lauren Alley, the lodge was insured for $1.2 million.

Alley said Wednesday that the Park Service’s Denver Service Center is evaluating bids for the work and a decision on that will be announced soon.

The construction project went to bid with the goal of beginning the first phase in July, Alley said.

The chalet rebuild is projected to be completed in 2019.

“Getting it under roof is the first goal,” Mitchell said.

According to National Park Service figures, 330 million people visited 417 national park sites in 2017. While the Service ?completed more than $650 million in maintenance and repair work in 2017, aging facilities, ?high visitation and resource constraints have kept the maintenance backlog between $11 billion and $12 billion since 2010.

“??The president is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our national parks, so it is a natural fit that the administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging parks infrastructure,” said Zinke. ?

“These approved projects are more than just line items on an Excel spreadsheet. They have a tangible effect on a person’s experience when visiting our nation’s parks. Today’s announcement is another step toward eliminating the more than $11 billion in maintenance facing the National Park Service. It’s another step toward prioritizing infrastructure because it is an investment that bolsters local economies and gateway communities. And it is another step in prioritizing access for all Americans to our public lands.”

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines applauded the Interior for prioritizing Montana in the appropriation.

“Glacier’s Sperry Chalet hotel has been a place for visitors to stay for over a century,” said Daines in a press release. “I thank Secretary Zinke for putting Montana’s priorities first and fighting to rebuild this historic building.”

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