Projects For Parks
We are working on implementation of several substantial parks improvement projects. We work closely with Montana State Parks managers to selecte a variety of urgent park needs spread across the state meant to enhance the experience of park visitors and create the next generation of State Park enthusiasts. Check out our 2018 projects tour on Tour Builder with Google.
In 2019 and beyond, we will be working to complete an even more ambitious set of challenges all aimed at making state parks across Montana even better places for residents, visitors, and natural creatures alike.
Wild Horse island state park
The Wild Horse Island Unit of Flathead Lake State Park receives around 20,000 visitors annually who seek world-class wildlife viewing opportunities. We are working on several immediate project opportunities that would improve wildlife habitat, improve park access, and enhance the visitor experience.
Ponderosa Pine encroachment and noxious weed invasion threaten the Palouse Prairie that serves as the forage for the island’s wildlife; mule deer, bighorn sheep, and the namesake wild horses. Before Pondersa Pine encroaching saplings grow to a larger, more difficult size to manage, Montana Conservation Crews would be utilized to hand thin these small saplings, thus conserving the grasses and forbs that sheep and deer depend on. Additionally, crews would be utilized to hand pull and spray noxious weeds, most notably Canada thistle and knapweed.
Additionally, over the past several years, Montana State Parks staff has worked to replace old landing site signage with new, aesthetically pleasing kiosks. These new kiosks are fabricated out of logs harvested from the island that create a unique aesthetic. Four of the six landing sites have been completed.
A fifth landing site has the structure, but no signage, no sign-in log and still has the old style self-pay station. A local welder would be commissioned to fabricate two of the new style fee boxes. A local sign shop would be utilized to fabricate the signage for the kiosks. A Montana Conservation Crew would be utilized to build the last log kiosk, install all signage and self-pay stations.
Providing clear, consistent information to visitors as they arrive to the park at one of six boat landing sites and again along trails as they traverse the island is critical to establishing appropriate human behavior and minimizing negative interaction between humans and wildlife. As visitation to Montana State Parks and Wildhorse Island increases,implementing cost-effective measures to protect wildlife habitat and ensure visitor safety will prove to be a very worthwhile investment.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State park
We are working to develop an Alternative Caverns Tour that will open the caving, speleology, and spelunking opportunities at the State Park to a much wider array of visitors through the development of alternative, accessible cavern tours.
The only tour of the caverns regularly offered at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is an arduous hike and journey through a large portion of the caverns complex. The steep hike to the upper caverns entrance, frequent stooping, crawling and sliding makes the tour inaccessible for park visitors with many mobility or physical limitations. When implemented, the Paradise Room tour will allow up to an additional 12,240 non-traditional visitors to explore the renowned namesake caverns of the State Park.
We will also develop one or two alternative campsites designed to accommodate travelers arriving at the park on foot or bicycle. These new campsites will provide specific amenities such as lockers, charging stations, weather protection, tools for basic gear maintenance, and nearby drinking water access. These campsites would begin to accommodate a growing number of long distance cyclists traveling in Southwest Montana.
Lewis and Clark Caverns is a great park for the development of these campsites. As Montana's first state park, Lewis and Clark Caverns is a top tier destination park that offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities such as spelunking, hiking, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, birding, and more.
Finally, every gift made to make this project happen will be matched $1:$1 by federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. These funds have been awarded to the park but cannot be used unless they are "matched" by donations, grants, and gifts made by people who love our parks and the outdoors by December 31st of this year.
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. All of this great work is being supported by On X Maps, a Montana based company committed to protecting and preserving outdoor access for everyone.
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.
Shared Bicycle Camping Area at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park
Support the opportunity for bicyclists to travel through the state of Montana by providing shared camping areas for individuals and groups traveling by bicycle or hikers on foot, with a no-turn-away policy. The camping area would be designed specifically to support & optimize the bicyclists’ needs when travelling by bicycle.
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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