Monthly Archives: February 2016

U.S. Forest Service strategy document paints bleak picture

The Forest Service has had a conflicting set of goals for the last few decades but, for Region 1 at least, things seem to be coming to a head. And it is not good news, especially for trails . . .

A new strategy for managing public lands for recreation, heritage and wilderness paints a bleak picture of the U.S. Forest Service’s own ability to tackle the job.

“You could say this looks like a D-minus report card,” said George Bain, Forest Service Region 1 director of recreation, lands, minerals, heritage and wilderness. “To us, this is how it is. We wanted to take a good, hard look and develop a strategy for how to work in that world. We don’t have all the money we’d want. We don’t have all the workforce we’d want. We don’t have the ability to take care of everything the way we’d like. This is the landscape we’re working in. Let’s see how to address this.”

The 50-page document released last August got little notice outside the Region 1 Missoula headquarters. But it had been more than a year in the drafting, and it has been signed by Regional Forester Leanne Marten, her deputies and the supervisors of all 10 national forests that report to her.

And note this part:

“Workforce skills are also on the decline” in maintaining Region 1’s 28,000 miles of trail. Most of the five Wild and Scenic River corridors lack completed management plans.

In late January, Bain delivered further bad news to a roundtable of recreation partners – Region 1’s trail maintenance budget is taking a 30 percent cut. That’s going to be phased in with 10 percent increments during the next three years. The money was getting reallocated to places like California that have more user-days of trail use.

Read more . . .

See also: The Northern Region Sustainable Recreation, Heritage, Wilderness (RHW) Strategy 2015-2020 (1.68MB, PDF)

Back Country Horsemen of Montana packing class scholarship available; donations needed

Packer Apprentice ProgramGreg Schatz just sent us the following information. If I was younger, I’d jump all over this . . .

The Back Country Horsemen of Montana is offering a full scholarship to the packing class taught and donated by Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfitters. The class is June 11-15 and the winner is due at the North Fork of the Blackfoot trailhead at 10 am June 11. We are expecting that the winning applicant will be in the 18-25 age range but anyone is welcome to apply.

The packing class scholarship application, sponsored by BCHMT and Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfitters is online at There are instructions on the application for where to send it when it is complete.

The deadline for applying is March 31.

For additional information, see the packing class poster (PDF, 199KB).

Also note that the Back Country Horsemen of Montana needs donations to help defray the cost of this scholarship program. The packer apprentice program will cost a total of $1,640 for this coming summer and they are looking for donations to make sure this project can be successful. They welcome any amount of donation. You can donate on-line or you can send a check with “packer apprentice” in the memo to BMWF, PO Box 190688, Hungry Horse MT 59919.

There are more details of the project and the costs associated with it, in the program poster (PDF, 290KB).