Kalispell, MT — Amy Johnson likes to enjoy the scenic trails of Lone Pine State Park almost every day. It’s a cherished escape.
“Within five minutes, I’m right there in nature,” she says. “I love that within only a few minutes you feel so far away from town. And each trail is different and has its own identity.”
This year Johnson began giving back to the park that has given her so much.
The Kalispell resident signed up for the new Trail Stewardship Program at Lone Pine State Park. As a “Trail Steward,” Johnson volunteers to clear trail brush and noxious weeds, pick up trash and dog waste and assist in other general trail maintenance. Trail Stewards can make their own schedules and only need to check sections of trail on a minimal basis.
The program surfaced this spring after the idea occurred to Thomas Keras, a Montana State Parks AmeriCorps member serving at Lone Pine. Keras was brainstorming ways to fulfill his mission of fostering stewardship and volunteerism through AmeriCorps and saw the success of a similar program – Adopt-A-Highway, which promotes roadside clean-up efforts. With the popularity and pride surrounding Lone Pine and its 7.5 miles of trails, Keras thought volunteers might take similar steps to help care for one of their community’s state parks.
The result has been a success story that looks to grow into the future. Nearly a handful of “Trail Stewards” make up the inaugural group leading the program, and their efforts have had a sizable impact on the park.
“The amount of work being done by a few volunteers is amazing,” says Derrick Rathe, park ranger at Lone Pine.
Volunteers submit reports detailing their work. The numbers have surpassed thousands of noxious weeds eliminated and hundreds of bags of dog waste picked up, along with much more that makes the park a safe, clean setting for all to enjoy.
Johnson alone has picked up more than 100 bags of dog waste and pulled almost 1,000 weeds during her adventures in the park over the last few months.
“It’s very rewarding,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something that matters.”
Become a Lone Pine Trail Steward
- Background check administered and paid for by Lone Pine State Park
- Hike assigned trail once a week or four times a month. Submit monthly hours report with breakdown of completed work and stay in touch with Montana State Parks staff
- Become a Lone Pine volunteer
- Your time on the trail is counted as volunteer hours
- Education in local wildlife, ecology, conservation and more
- Interaction with the community
- Participation in upkeep of public amenities
- Promotion of healthy lifestyle and outdoor conservation
Lone Pine State Park is located 5 miles southwest of Kalispell and offers one of the most vivid views of the valley, 7.5 miles of trails, and a beautiful interpretive center that provides information on living in a wildlife urban interface. Additional amenities include a picnic shelter and a community room, which are both available to rent, as well as a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, and an archery range. Furthermore, Lone Pine offers a fantastic variety of educational and interpretive programs.
Visit Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.