HUNGRY HORSE — The streets and boulevards that wander the Hungry Horse Ranger District feature humdrum names far less inspired than the snow-capped mountains that frame the western boundary of Glacier National Park.
Many of the streets date back to the construction of Hungry Horse Dam, and the laborers who sanctioned them had utilitarian concerns that outweighed the need to bestow memorable names on these public thoroughfares.
But folks who travel down one newly named Forest Service road leading to the Hungry Horse Ranger Station won’t soon forget its special meaning.
Tucked between Montana Street and Colorado Boulevard, a stretch of road formerly called Wyoming Street now honors the legacy of a man who devoted his career to patrolling this district of the Flathead National Forest — Brad Treat.
About 75 friends, family members and colleagues ambled down Brad Treat Memorial Street on a crisp, blue morning Nov. 18 in tribute to the 38-year-old U.S. Forest Service officer who was killed in June by a grizzly bear while mountain biking near Glacier National Park.
Before unveiling the two new signs that line the street, District Ranger Rob Davies said the simplicity of the street posts align with Treat’s simple nature, while their location in the heart of the Hungry Horse Ranger District is a tribute to the 15 years Treat devoted to the national forest parcel, where he worked as a law enforcement officer.
“Brad is physically not here, but his spirit and his heart continue to guide us,” Davies said. “He has given us an example of how to live our lives.”
Many of those who attended the ceremony worked with Treat, and will drive his memorial street on a daily basis. Davies urged them to acknowledge Treat’s contributions to his peers, and to help future generations remember as well.
“As we go on with our lives and our careers, we will remember Brad,” Davies said. “Some of us are going to be driving by this sign every day, and it might trigger some emotions or grief. But I want you to rise above that and remember that this is about the long term. In 30 or 40 years most of us will be gone, but this sign and this street will help people remember and talk about who Brad was.”
Brad Treat Memorial Street runs past the ranger station, tracks along the International Larix Arboretum and ends at the larch-studded Coram Experimental Forest.
Kyle Johnson, Treat’s uncle and a longtime Glacier Park ranger, helped conceive of the idea to rename the street, but thanked Davies and other key players who helped navigate the red tape to achieve its dedication.
“It’s one thing to talk about an idea and it’s another thing to make it happen,” Johnson said. “This is a pretty cool deal, and I think Brad would appreciate it.”
Treat was mountain biking near his home in West Glacier with a family member on June 29 when he came down a trail and collided with a male grizzly bear, according to state wildlife officials investigating the incident. The surprise collision provoked an attack and the grizzly killed him.
Wildlife officials conducted a search for the bear following the attack but ended the effort after a few days. Adult male grizzlies have a large home range, often spanning 300-500 square miles.
Treat was born and raised in Kalispell and became a standout athlete at Flathead High School, class of 1996. He graduated from the University of Montana with a masters degree in criminology before working as a law enforcement officer for 15 years on the Hungry Horse Ranger District. He was also a member of the local search and rescue organization, as well as swiftwater rescue and avalanche rescue teams. He also previously worked as a wildland firefighter and backcountry ranger for the National Park Service.