With four votes that took less than 10 total minutes, the Flathead County Commission on Dec. 11 authorized the actions needed to complete the final phase of the planned expansion at Herron Park.
The commission voted unanimously to allow county administrator Mike Pence to act as the signatory for the closing documents and the deed for the last 60 acres that will be added to the park, bringing it to a total of 440 acres.
The county and Foys to Blacktail Trails – the nonprofit group responsible for buying the land needed to expand the park from 120 acres to 440 – expect the 60 acres to be in the county’s possession by Dec. 17.
“It’s been a great project with some significant momentum and I am so excited for this particular step,” Cliff Kipp, Foys to Blacktail board chairman, said.
The group’s namesake goal is to connect Herron Park, which sits nearby Foys Lake, to the national forest lands on Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside through a trail system.
In nearly seven years, the organization has raised $2.25 million to purchase the land to add to Herron Park, and has also built and maintained recreational paths for outdoor enthusiasts.
Kipp said that though the group is done buying land for Herron Park, it will still maintain its presence there. Next year, they hope to finish a new trail on the western-most portion of the park, loosely call the Boundary Trail, which was started this year on National Public Lands Day this year.
Though Flathead County will own the land, Foys to Blacktail still intends to help maintain trails, build trails, deal with signage, and other tasks.
The goal was to get the land purchase finalized before the end of the year, so the organization could start focusing on new goals, Kipp said. In January, the board will begin looking at how to advance recreational interest in Herron Park, and how to reach its goal of connecting Foys Lake to Blacktail Mountain.
“The next step really is to refocus our energies on working with private landowners to carve our path between Herron Park and the forest service land down by Blacktail,” Kipp said.
Herron Park is extremely popular already, with an average of about 100 visitors per day throughout the year; hikers and cyclists take to the trails, and the park also provides an equestrian training area.
The park is also attractive to professional athletes and world-class events.
For more information on Foys to Blacktail Trails, visit www.foystoblacktailtrails.org.