Trails in Montana need care in all seasons - and the Montana State Parks division of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has just announced funding in their Recreational Trails Program. Over $1.5 million will be used by organizations in a wide variety of plans. They include local efforts.

The huge Selway Bitterroot Wilderness, just west of the Bitterroot Valley, has quite a few trails, and the Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation will use $11,000 to work on about 36 miles of wilderness trails in seven different volunteer maintenance projects this summer. They received similar funding last year.

Also getting another year of funding was the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club. The club is responsible for trail grooming at the Chief Joseph Pass and Lake Como ski trails. They will use over $28,000 for the grooming and maintenance costs, and that will help keep the trails open for free skiing and other outdoor activities.

The Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club will use $22,500 to also do grooming on about 82 miles of snowmobile tracks on both sides of the valley in Sapphire and Bitterroot Mountains.

Knowing what the avalanche danger you might face is the specialty of the West Central Montana Avalanche Forecasting and Awareness Project. FWP awarded $45,000 to help them continue the essential service. The Flathead Avalanche Center and the Southwest Montana Avalanche Project were also funded.

Bitterroot trail maintenance on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest will benefit from a $15,000 grant and the Lolo National Forest will construct a half-mile of accessible trail and signage in the Murphy Creek area near Superior. Grants are also going to the Missoula Nordic Ski Club for cross-country trail grooming, the Missoula Snowgoers Snowmobile Association for Lolo and Garnet trail grooming and Montana Conservation Corps for work on rerouting the Wallman Trail in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area.

MOntana State Parks officials said the federal funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund as part of the motor fuel excise tax, which is designated for non-highway recreational fuel use, such as snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-highway light trucks. The State Trails Advisory Committee helps review the applicants each year. A full report is online.

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