Mid-February Trail Report
Old man winter continues to keep outdoor recreationists and local weather forecasters on their toes. February came in like a lion with wind storms, snow, ice, and even warm soaking rain. Thankfully, these intermittent storms were abbreviated by restorative periods of sunshine, blue skies, and better visibility. Sunshine these days is kind of like a powder day on the ski hill. Drop everything! And get outside while you can to soak up that healing vitamin D.
Local trails took a big hit during recent wind storms. Over 6 trees came down at Lion Mountain alone! We’d like to offer a HUGE THANKS to Bill Love, our devoted chainsaw volunteer, for braving difficult, icy conditions to get these down trees cleared so quickly. Bill continues to clear other areas of the trail, but with winter access difficult to more distant trailheads, some trees will have to wait until spring. Beaver Lakes especially took a hard hit. The DNRC reported that ~400 trees blew down around Murray Lake alone. DNRC plans to salvage many of the trees.
The valley snowpack has melted significantly in recent weeks revealing sections of dirt on those typical south facing slopes including Reservoir. These sections of bare ground become muddy in the afternoon, so take care not to damage the tread.
Have you noticed the new trail maps at trailheads? Through a grant from the Montana Office of Tourism, we have updated the Whitefish Trail maps to include new trails and highlight our local conservation lands. See all that purple? That’s all the conservation that has been secured since the community and WLP started working with partners under the WF Neighborhood Plan. Pat yourself on the back Whitefish! Over 6,000 acres of local lands are protected forever and have provided over $12 million in cash to support Montana Schools and Universities. In fact, the 2014 Beaver Lake Public Recreation Easement continues to generate $300,000 every year in perpetuity for Montana Universities.
Smith Lake is next. We are working hard to secure permanent conservation and public access for these important community lands. The benefits of the Smith Lake Legacy project are powerful and well worth the investment. The $3 – 4M price tag will directly fund the State’s Permanent Education Fund and generate $140,000 every year in perpetuity for MT Schools and Universities. Stay tuned for project updates and how you can be involved.