Projects For Parks
In 2018 we will begin implementation of four substantial parks improvement projects. We have selected a variety of urgent park needs spread across the state that will enhance the experience of park visitors and create the next generation of State Park enthusiasts.
Makoshika State Park
Makoshika is well known and regarded as one of the premier parks in Montana's State Parks network. Next summer we plan to fund the reconstruction of the Diane Gabriel Trail, an outstanding but rapidly deteriorating hiking, and interpretive trail. The improvements planned for the trail will improve access to a beautiful and unique part of this outstanding park. Visitors will enjoy improved trail conditions such as new bridges, better-constructed steps, and well planned scenic views in addition to the once in a lifetime chance to view the fossilized remains of a Hadrosaur.
Named for the late Diane Gabriel, a paleontologist from the Museum of the Rockies who did extensive dinosaur research at Makoshika State Park, the 1.5-mile loop trail introduces visitors to the larger features of the badlands landscape, such as the sod tabletops and sinkhole caves that form in the hillsides from erosion. The highlight of the trail is a climb up to a series of Hadrosaur vertebrae left partially exposed in the hillside so visitors can see what it is like to find and excavate fossils.
Sluice Boxes State Park
The trail to the Sluice Boxes State Park overlook may lead to one of the most spectacular views in Central Montana, but the path itself is in bad shape and getting worse every day. Currently, the trail passes through areas that are wet and muddy from a year-round spring. Hikers, just trying to keep feet dry and clean, avoid the trail in this area and subsequently cause a lot of erosion and trampling of native plants nearby. As if the mud and muck were not enough, the trail then climbs to a steep cliff area where negotiating the steep climbs and descents often proves too much for many park visitors. We will build a bridge over the spring and build stairs to negotiate the cliff which will improve access to the outstanding overlook above Belt Creek. Once the work is completed, the world class view of this Central Montana gem will be available to new hikers and longtime park visitors alike.
Milltown State Park
Parts of Montana's newest State Park are yet to open to the public but, rest assured, when the park finally does fully open after considerable resources have been invested by the Montana State Parks foundation, it will be among the best parks in the state. Visitors will find ample opportunities to explore the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers while finding places to take in the scenery and relax on benches beneath shady trees.
Our foundation will fund the landscaping and visitor use improvements that will make Milltown State Park one of the most aesthetic and visitor friendly parks you'll find anywhere. We are excited to contribute to the creation of Milltown as a state park. Once a crossroads for Native American tribes traveling to bison hunting grounds, for decades a reservoir and sawmill, a lingering superfund clean up, and soon to be a vibrant State Park, Milltown with its fascinating history, is now brimming with potential.
Lonepine State Park
Lonepine State Park boasts over seven and a half miles of multi-use trails just outside of Kalispell. Visitors from all over the world converge with Montana locals in the popular Flathead Valley just west of Glacier National Park. With visitation to the Flathead region growing every year, more information about the trails, overlooks, and natural wonders of Lonepine State Park is badly needed. That's why we will fund trailhead kiosks and informational signs in this popular park for visitors. The additional information available at the new kiosks will only improve what is already a great park.
Who doesn't remember a great class field trip from their days in elementary school? Growing up in Miles City, I remember trips to Ft. Keogh Agricultural Station and the nearby BLM lands known as Strawberry Hill. Sadly, with budget cuts, many teachers and schools simply cannot afford the cost of getting their students to nearby places that offer educational experiences. We plan to help change that. By following the model of the National Park Service's Every Kid in a Park program, we will be providing funding for school field trips to Montana State Parks for teachers and schools across the state. Many people form their love of public lands at a very young age and we hope to inspire a new generation of parks lovers through this program.
Montana's State Parks embody the best things about our state. Clean, natural, accessible to everyone, our parks create a shared sense of pride in our communities. However, state budget shortfall, natural disasters, and increasing use have left our parks needing serious work.
A donation to the Montana State Parks Foundation helps fund projects like the ones described below. Projects that improve our parks and ensure that they will remain great for generations to come. Please help your parks with a tax-deductible gift today.
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