By JEREMY WEBER, Daily Inter Lake
WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) – Kim Hyatt of Glacier National Park loves her job.
As the historic architect of the park, it has been Hyatt’s duty over the past two years to ensure that any work done on the buildings and structures of the park is done in a way that preserves their history.
With over 400 historic Glacier National Park buildings and over 300 historic structures, Hyatt has no shortage of projects to choose from.
âAs you can imagine, the Park Service has an extensive inventory of historic buildings. Our goal is to preserve cultural and natural resources for the enjoyment of the public. These cultural resources include our historic buildings, âHyatt explained. âA lot of people don’t realize that we define history as something that is over 50 years old. If it is 50 years or older, we have an obligation to take care of it, whether it is an old hotel or a latrine.
For Hyatt, the love of old buildings began when his family took a road trip from their home in Salt Lake City in the Southwest, the Deep South and all the way to New England to Vermont.
âThis trip really started to love antiques and old buildings,â Hyatt told the Daily Inter Lake. “I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to make a career out of what started as a love of old buildings when I was only 7 years old.”
Inspired by this family vacation, Hyatt became a Certified Architect and worked in several offices, but his love of old buildings continually drew him to these types of projects.
âBuildings are the most important evidence of our history and connecting people to that history is important to me,â he said.
When the opportunity arose for Hyatt to join the National Park Service as the historic architect of Bryce Canyon 10 years ago, he jumped at the chance. A decade later, he says it was one of the best decisions of his life.
Over the years, Hyatt has been involved in a number of projects with the National Park Service in several states, including Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana, among others. Hyatt’s designs include a new toilet block at Big Bend on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, built with a green roof on a hillside to protect against frequent landslides in the area, and the new exhibit by fossil discovery at Big Bend National Park in West Texas.
With a large number of buildings and structures constructed during the National Park Service’s Mission 66 campaign now over 50 years old, Hyatt and his fellow historic architects in the National Park Service have many new projects underway. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Park Service, from 1956 to 1966, the program led to the construction of many new structures, including reception centers, housing, improved roads (including the Camas to Glacier road), boulders sanitary facilities, campgrounds and more.
Unfortunately, limited funding for restoration and maintenance means Hyatt has to choose its projects wisely.
âWhen it all turned 50, it really increased the inventory of historic Park Service buildings overnight. It was a bit overwhelming, to be honest. We now have all of these historic buildings and not a lot of money to take care of them, âhe said. âBuildings don’t last if they’re not in use, and it’s no different with our historic buildings. Nothing lasts eternally. We just have more buildings than we can use on a regular basis. “
Restrictions on funding sources mean Hyatt and the other historic Park Service architects have to be very selective with which projects to undertake, multiple times with multiple parks competing for the same source of funding.
âA project may not meet the criteria for one funding source, but does for another. This is how the priority of many projects is determined. It all depends on the types of financing available, âHyatt explained. âWith these kinds of limitations, we have to be selective in our projects. There are a lot of neat buildings in the park that I wish we could invest some money in, but we are forced to choose what we can do.
Over the coming year, Hyatt is working on several new projects at Glacier, including the completion of the new Camas entrance station as well as the rehabilitation of a dozen bridges and even a bridge replacement project on North McDonald Creek, which will begin in the spring. .
âI think I have a job as long as I want it,â Hyatt said with a laugh. âThere is definitely a lot to do here. “
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.