Guest Editorial: Working together in Lincoln for a bright future

 

August 1, 2018



Recently, a group of media took flight with University of Montana professor Rick Graetz to take in the stunning landscape of the southern Crown of the Continent area, centered on Lincoln. This flight highlighted Graetz’s effort to map, explore, and include this landscape of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest into the coveted Crown of the Continent, which could bring an economic boost for Lincoln. With increased visitors to the area, that tourism influx could assist in cushioning and leveling out the historic boom-and-bust economy that has defined the Lincoln area for generations.

To make the most of this opportunity provided by our valuable natural assets it is critical that people from different backgrounds and with different interests for our shared public lands - from recreationists, timber folks, and ranchers to conservationists and local businesses – come together to build a brighter future for our community.

Things are happening here in Lincoln, because of our ability to put our differences aside, and work together for the greater good of our beloved community and wide-open spaces. This collaborative work is not easy – it takes time and patience and a good dose of humility from time to time – but it is starting to yield tangible results for Lincoln.


Through collaboration, our community recently received a $20,000 grant from the Montana State Weed Trust Fund for vegetation management. Lincoln’s Weed Committee was formed three years ago by a diverse group of residents including ranchers, business owners, state and federal land representatives, conservation groups, and more. Over beers at the Lost Woodsman, this group hammered out solutions to noxious weed issues that benefited everyone, and this recent grant is proof of their good work. The $20,000 will be used by private landowners to offset costs associated with fighting weeds on their properties, which will boost the health of all public and private lands.

Additionally, the Lincoln Ranger District was recently the recipient of a $90,000 Recreational Trails Program grant to build new mountain bike and ATV trails in the area. These funds will be used to improve recreational access by contributing to connected trail systems for mountain bikes and ATVs fifty inches wide or less, and it was a result of work done by mountain bike advocates like MTB Missoula and the Montana Bicycle Guild , local ATV riders, groups like The Wilderness Society, and our local Forest Service staff coming together to agree on a plan that benefits all. Building these new trails will help make Lincoln a destination for biking and ATV enthusiasts while minimizing impacts to wildlife and our valuable natural resources.

This RTP grant application enjoyed the support of motorized users, wilderness advocates like the Montana Wilderness Association, business owners, and mountain bikers alike. Because of that diverse local support, the Blackfoot Challenge signed on to match $10,000 of this grant, which turned into nearly $100,000 when the grant was awarded. With such broad support and local organizations putting skin in the game with match dollars, we proved Lincoln well worthy of receiving this critical grant support.

These successes are just the most recent accomplishments of a community that is learning to listen, understand each other, and come together to find solutions that benefit us all. Blackfoot Pathways, Sculpture in the Wild continues to be a revenue generator for Lincoln and adds culture and creativity to our community. As we attract artists from around the world to add to our local art installations, we will continue to draw visitors from far and wide to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and buy goods in our shops.

If we can continue to work with diverse partners to improve recreational opportunities and protect the most special places in our backyard national forest, folks will have more even more reasons to come to Lincoln and to stay with their families. For that reason, it is crucial that diverse interests and local community members continue to engage in the ongoing Helena/Lewis and Clark Forest Plan Revision Process that will guide management of our backyard National Forests for the next 20-30 years.

Our grant successes, the Sculpture Park, The Community River Park and the recent Envision Lincoln efforts are all clear examples of a community working shoulder to shoulder with neighbors and friends to improve the economy of Lincoln, hold up and recognize our vast community assets, and plant the seeds for a positive future for our children, and grandchildren.

However we cannot do it alone. As we march down this collaborative path, we need your help. It’s time our entire community and those with personal interest in our valley put narrow agendas aside and roll up our sleeves to carve out a future for Lincoln where families can prosper, where neighbors help neighbors, and where we maintain our incredible natural assets long into the future.

Zach Muse – LVFR, Chief

Paul Roos – Conservation Advocate

Bill Cyr – Scapegoat Wilderness Outfitter

Karyn Good – Blackfoot Challenge

Russ Ehnes – ATV Advocate

Casey Perkins – Montana Wilderness Association

Frank Malek – ATV Advocate

Jordan Reeves – Wilderness Society

Eric Grove – Mountain Bike Advocate

 

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