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May Trail and Stewardship Update

Welcome to the first 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.

Spring is one of the most important seasons for trail stewardship. As the snow melts from a long winter, it is crucial to address routine trail maintenance needs as well as take advantage of the moisture in the soil. Routine needs include clearing trees from winter blowdown, removing debris from water drains, and addressing any trail tread damage. We use an assortment of tools to clear trees: hand saws, an electric chainsaw, and a gas chainsaw with a 20" bar. The most fun trees are the ones we can access with a bike equipped with chaps on the handlebars and a backpack holding the electric saw. Functional water drains are crucial to minimize damaging erosion and to maintain a healthy watershed. Most of the drains across the Whitefish Trail are at a low point in the trail – a grade reversal. Spring is the perfect time to do tread work because the moisture in the soil allows it to tightly compact and harden after manipulating the shape of the tread.

Spring is also the beginning of volunteer season out on the trail! This year's Adopt-a-Trail crews have been hard at work. Having different crews dedicated to each section of the Whitefish Trail is critical to carrying out routine spring maintenance. Thank you Grouse Mountain Lodge, Logan Health, and Two Bear Air Rescue Foundation! Late in May, Two Bear Air Rescue had their first workday and took the opportunity to get some helicopter training in; check out the video below. Dropping in rescuers from each end of their Woods Lake section made for an extremely efficient workday.

Parkside Credit Union helped carry out a project during their workday to address social trails and wide sections of trail at Lion Mountain. Late last summer we noticed that the vegetation on the side of the trail got damaged in some sections. We planted native grass seed to reclaim some areas.

Our Volunteer Trail Crew has also been doing great things out on the trail this spring. 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. For the first project of the year, we armored a section of trail with rocks to address a permanently wet section with a water seep. Next time you are on the trail between Swift Creek and Smith Lake, keep your eyes out for a 10 foot cobble stoned section of the trail. We also spruced up Woods Lake and Dollar Lake Trailheads - with the main accomplishment being replacing the Woods Lake Handicap Parking Guard Rail. If you are interested in joining the volunteer trail crew shoot an email to

We also installed two new benches along the trail. One out at Swift Creek in memory of Erik Myhran and the other at Lion Mountain in memory of Laurel Grady. If you haven't seen the new benches yet, go check them out! The majority of the tools needs to install benches out on the trail were provided by the Whitefish Community Foundation through a community grant. Thank you Community Foundation!

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


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