The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF) in southwest Montana is known for outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities. Spanning over 3.3 million acres, the forest has over 3,000 miles of trails, 4,700 miles of roads, 81 developed campgrounds and picnic sites, and 24 rental cabins.
Chances are your favorite trail, cabin or campground has had the hands of volunteers and partners taking care of it. “The Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF provides an incredible setting that strengthens our local communities economically and connects people to the outdoors through enhanced recreation opportunities and experiences,” said Forest Supervisor Melany Glossa.
“With declining budgets, it has become more difficult to manage and maintain infrastructure that is critical to providing a variety of safe and enjoyable recreational experiences,” Acting Deputy Forest Supervisor Scot Shuler commented. “As a result, we believe we have better outcomes by working with our communities, partners and volunteers to share ownership and find solutions to these challenges.”
Campground hosts are among the most common volunteers helping the BDNF. These hosts provide area information to visitors and perform light maintenance in the campgrounds.
Tom Wolfe, a dedicated volunteer, brought his experience and unique skills in 2017 to help with a number of cabin restoration projects in the Big Hole. He worked diligently to repair cabin doors and windows, replace rotted logs and timbers, paint floors, and oil cabin walls, roofs, and out buildings.
Each year the BDNF teams up with the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), an organization that recruits Montana youth to help them learn while serving communities and public lands in Montana. The MCC works on a variety of projects including installation of trail signs, trail maintenance and bridge construction on trails throughout the BDNF. In 2017 the MCC worked on trails in the Deerhead Lake and the Lake Agnes areas in the Pioneer Mountains. They also spend quite a bit of time working on trails in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness and along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. This summer, the MCC will be working to clear and improve trails in old fire scarred areas in the Sand Basin area west of Philipsburg.
For over a dozen years another youth corps organization, AmeriCorps St. Louis, has returned to the forest to maintain trails, install bear-proof food-storage lockers, repair interpretive signs and fences, and cut firewood for rental cabins.
This year the Dillon Ranger District will be working with the Back Country Horsemen who will pack in supplies and equipment to Tent Lake in the Pioneer Mountains. The National Smokejumper Association will use the supplies and equipment to install a foot bridge and to improve trails in the area.
Several local clubs obtain grants that fund grooming of snowmobile trails and perform maintenance on OHV trails throughout the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
These are just a few of the many volunteer and partner groups the BDNF works with. Other groups include: The Lewis and Clark Foundation; Montana Wilderness Association; Anaconda Job Corps; Flint Creek Trails Association; Echo Lake Trails Association; Beaverhead County Trails Coalition; Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club; and many others.
For more information about opportunities to volunteer or partner with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, contact Forest Service offices in Dillon, Butte, Ennis, Wisdom, or Philipsburg.