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June Trail and Stewardship Update

Welcome to the second blog post in a new series. Each month we want to share our stewardship efforts of the Whitefish Trail and our community's beautiful open lands. Stewardship means the responsible planning and management of resources. The management of the trail itself will be the focus throughout this series, but we will also discuss stewardship of the land beyond the trail.

June is a month of transition out on the trail. The first half of June was wet enough to keep working on improving the trail tread. Now, as the month wraps up and we head into hotter temperatures, there is less moisture in the soil so it is more productive to focus on different aspects of trail work. Before the moisture returns in the fall, we will be working on brushing sections of the trail that have encroaching vegetation and trailhead maintenance. Keep an eye out for freshly clipped branches and new gravel this July!

Our volunteers have been hard at work on the trail this month. Almost all spring Adopt-a-Trail workdays are complete. Two new Adopt-a-Trail crews had their first workdays, both a huge success. Thank you to Church of the Cross and Women Who Explore Montana for joining the program! Whitefish Ski Resort also got out for their workday; we had a couple of very satisfying puddles to clear out on the upper section of the Whitefish Trail in Haskill (see below).

We had a great celebration of everyone's favorite holiday this year - National Trails Day! In partnership with the Flathead Area Mountain Bikers (FAMB), we improved the lower switchbacks on the Reservoir Trail. This section of trail is on a steep slope which makes erosion a top management concern. In 2021, we armored the switchbacks with concrete pavers to hold the soil in place. This year we improved the ride line in hopes to keep braking tires off of the main tread and also to create a more enjoyable biking experience. We also brought in wheelbarrows of fill material to replace eroded soil. Thank you FAMB and volunteers!

Our Volunteer Trail Crew has also been doing great things out on the trail this month. Each month, the crew has the opportunity to participate in three workdays. Community members on the crew range from seasoned trail dogs to folks interested in learning more about trail work. This month we worked on improving the drainage on the middle section of the Whitefish Trail in Haskill as well as retreading a section of the South Beaver Loop. The photo to the right shows volunteers smoothing out new dirt on the South Beaver Loop near where the Whitefish Bike Retreat trail connects to the Whitefish Trail. This section was a consistent low point and typically held water which caused damaging erosion. To fix this issue, we brought in dirt to raise the trail tread up and improve the drainage for the future.

Check out these new Whitefish Trail Crew shirts! If you see someone wearing one around town, ask them about their experience volunteering out on the trail. If you want to earn one of your own, all you need to do is attend three volunteer events this year. Email for more info.

This month we installed a bench in Memory of Britt Barone. It's a great spot to take a breather at Skyles while looking accross the valley at the Skyles Lake Overlook at Lion Mountain. In August, we will install another bench by Woods Lake for the Spencers, totaling four new benches in 2024!

June is also the time of year that we carry out our state required weed management. Foresteration and the Montana Conservation Corps used backpack sprayers to target noxious weeds in the trail corridor with tailored chemicals for each plant. We recognize that spraying chemicals can have its cons, but to maintain a thriving ecosystem of native plants on our open lands, we must work to prevent invasive weeds from fully establishing. The photo to the left is Spotted Knapweed.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for July's Trail and Stewardship Update!


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