LETTER: Trail a Long Time in the Making

By Beacon Staff

During the mid-1970s, a citizens group in and around West Glacier nearly succeeded in creating a bike and horse path to be constructed between Hungry Horse and Glacier National Park. Working together were 4-H kids, horse enthusiasts, bicyclists and many local residents. The initial plan was to have a path on each side of the road but they soon realized that was not a good idea. Back to the drawing board they went and decided it would be better to have both paths on the same side. They also hoped if two paths were requested, they would end up with one.

Plans were prepared and sent to the Montana highway department and even to the state’s congressman and to President Gerald Ford. The group gathered signatures of support from all over, thousands of signatures. The plan was moving ahead until one local environmentalist obtained a government grant to stop the bike- and horse-path proposal. She took her grievance to the Ninth Circuit Court and won. The plan was blocked by the court. No one from the highway department went to support it. Two people from California offered testimony, but the judge wouldn’t allow them to talk because they resided in California, not Montana. Among the volunteers, many children worked on this and – amid the “new” plans for a bike path – no one has been acknowledged what was done years ago.

There were 30 families working on this. Indeed, the children who were so active and nearly successful probably won’t get credit for what they did. More of the story can be found in the archives of local newspapers. ??

Catherine Richter?
West Glacier

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