After 15 years of planning, fundraising, expanding Herron Park, building trails and securing easements, the Foy’s to Blacktail Trail took a final step toward reality this month when the Flathead County Commissioners approved permanent public trail easements with six landowners.
The easements will result in eight miles of new trail across private property reaching from Herron Park in Kalispell to Lakeside.
“We are very excited to see years of hard work and community support pay off for our local community,” said Kelly O’Brien, chair of the nonprofit Foy’s to Blacktail Trails (FTBT), which spearheaded the effort. “We are so grateful to the Commission, to Flathead County Parks, to the six private landowners, and to hundreds of community members who made this possible.”
The largest of the private landowners is Weyerhaeuser, formerly Plum Creek Timber Co., which has been a willing and active partner in the project since discussions about the trail began in 2001.
The long-anticipated ridgeline trail connects the trail system at Herron Park with the trail system on Forest Service land above Lakeside. Featuring scenic views and varied terrain, the trail is construction-ready, fully designed, surveyed and cleared of brush and trees, O’Brien said.
FTBT has hired Terraflow Trail Systems of Whitefish to build the trail, which should begin when weather allows this spring.
O’Brien noted that the trail should open in summer of 2017, pending anticipated funding from grants and private donors.
“We are applying for grants and have a good chance for success, but will also need to raise at least $30,000 from private supporters, meaning lots of individuals and businesses throughout the community,” said O’Brien. “We hope that folks will contribute to help us with the final stages of making this trail a reality for our community. “
To support this project, please visit FoysToBlacktailTrails.org, or mail donations to FTBT, P.O. Box 81, Kalispell, MT 59903.