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A Glacier National Park ranger walks along the popular Trail of the Cedars. The National Park Service has ordered Glacier to prepare to cut $682,000 from its budget.

KURT WILSON/Missoulian

WEST GLACIER – You can be more than a visitor to Glacier National Park this summer.

You can be a researcher.

The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center will continue to offer free research and learning opportunities to the public through its Citizen Science Program.

The program trains individuals to identify, observe and record information on mountain goats, pikas, loons and invasive plants within the park.

According to Glacier management assistant Denise Germann, the wildlife species have been targeted because of their sensitivity to changes in habitat and human disturbances. The invasive species, meantime, present a threat to native biodiversity.

Participants attend a one-day training session before collecting data.

Organizers say the program “helps create an informed group of visitors involved in active stewardship of Glacier National Park.”

The learning center has scheduled training sessions for people interested in participating. Additional sessions may be added, depending on interest. To sign up, call 888-7986.

These are the sessions:

• High Country Citizen Science: It involves observing mountain goat and pika behavior at selected sites to assist with population and distribution estimates. Both species are habitat and temperature sensitive and may be affected by climate change.

Training dates: June 7, 18, 28 or July 3.

• Common Loon Citizen Science: Participants gather information on the distribution and reproduction of common loons to understand more about population trends and nesting success.

Training date: June 12.

• Invasive Plant Citizen Science: You’ll learn to identify five targeted invasive plants and use GPS units to mark their locations while hiking along trails in Glacier Park. Participants can train online for this program, at 1.usa.gov/123OpDf.

Or, attend the annual weed blitz on July 23.

Glacier’s Citizen Science Program has been operating since 2005. Funding is provided by the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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