Hyalite Canyon showing signs of illegal activity, clean up day s - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Hyalite Canyon showing signs of illegal activity, clean up day set

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The gate at the Moser Creek Trailhead used for target shooting The gate at the Moser Creek Trailhead used for target shooting
Trash in Moser Creek in Hyalite Canyon Trash in Moser Creek in Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon is one of Montana's most popular recreation areas and is set to reopen in just a few weeks for the busy summer season.

But people are already spending time there and some are abusing the public lands.

"The damage is pretty consistent throughout the year.   Given the low amount of snow this year, people have been trying to get out and get up here and use the area during the winter," Custer Gallatin National Forest Public Affairs Specialist Mariah Leuschen said. 

In the Moser Creek area alone, you'll find lots of evidence of illegal activity.  Black spots on the newly paved parking lot are from pallet fires.  

"In addition to the thousands of nails that end up right here in the parking lot, it breaks down the pavement and water gets in there and every one of these black spots turns into a huge pot hole," said Friends of Hyalite Executive Director Joe Josephson. "Almost every parking lot and pullout in Hyalite will have evidence of these pallet fires."

Shooting is another big issue. Up Moser Creek Road, there's a site heavily used for target shooting that raises several red flags.  

"Not only are you within the target shooting area you are shooting across a stream, you can see it's leading to lots of trash and other things in the stream. Ths is Moser Creek, it's part of Bozeman's water supply," Bozeman Ranger District Recreation Program Manager Wendy Urie said.

Electronics and exploding targets are just some of the trash found near the water. Green trees have also been shot and killed.

"Even though there is a backdrop here there could be cars of people right above," Urie said.

Just next to the road there's a sign that's been completely destroyed.  Urie said replacing damaged signs akes away from other services the Bozeman Ranger District provides like cleaning outhouses and clearing trails. 

"We have a very small staff on the recreation staff on the forest.  They probably spend half of their time picking up trash," Urie said.

The district is looking for partners to better manage this and the shooting problem.  

"That would be a great thing," Urie said.

Vandalism is another issue, particularly in the Little Bear Area. For more on what to do if you suspect illegal activity, you are urged to call TIP MONT at 800-847-6668. 

Anyone wanting to help pick up trash in Hyalite Canyon will get a chance next month. Friends of Hyalite will host it's annual spring Clean up Day on May 9, hitting spots like the Moser Creek area. 

Volunteers will spread out all along the canyon to pick up trash and debris at trailheads, recreation areas and on the side the road. 

Forest service officials say they bring out anywhere from 2,00-4,000 pounds of trash on these clean up days, which happen twice a year. The spring clean up is an big one, with Hyalite Road still being closed. 

"So bring your bike and we'll have some trash bags so you can pick up trash along your bike ride. And then also in these shooting areas. It's really one of the few times we can get into them without there being people shooting. So often times in the fall cleanup we can't even get to these areas because there's too much activity," Josephson said.

Those interested should meet at the locked gate at the fishing access site at 9 a.m. Bring gloves, lunch, water, bear spray and warm layers.

The road is open again to vehicles on May 16.

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