Cleaning the Bob

By Beacon Staff

With a National Trails Day work project on June 2, the Whitefish-based Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation kicks off their summer volunteer program. The group will hit the Middle Fork of the Flathead for trail clearing and celebrate afterwards with a barbecue. Saturday’s trail work is just a prelude to 17 foundation-run volunteer work trips scheduled throughout the summer.

With 1.5 million acres of designated wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is made up of the Great Bear, Bob Marshall, and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas. As federal finance cuts eat into trail crew budgets, the Forest Service relies on trail crew assistance from volunteers in programs like the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. “It gets you out in the woods,” said program coordinator Shannon Freix. “You meet like-minded folks who like taking care of the treasure there.”

Summertime trail projects continue weekly throughout July, August, and September. Volunteers are provided with food, water, and a leader, but bring their own camping gear and enthusiasm. Trips range in length–one, three, five, and seven days. Participation is by reservation only with signups required two to three weeks ahead of time. It’s the perfect outdoor volunteer project for youth groups, families, organizations and anyone who is interested in wilderness adventure.

Shorter overnight and single day trips offer an easy backcountry experience while longer trips provide an old-fashioned Western experience—complete with pack mules, horses, and even llamas. Projects such as trail maintenance, cabin and campsite rehabilitation, noxious weed eradication, and seed collection vary in their physical demands from easy to strenuous.

You can find specific dates, project descriptions, and more information online at www.thebmwf.org or contact Shannon Freix at 406/863-5411.