LINCOLN — A sweeping proposal for "collaborative" land management in the Upper Blackfoot Valley is in the hands of Montana's Congressional delegation, with backers hoping the ideas can be hammered into legislation.
After eight years of hammering out details, the Upper Blackfoot Community Council is pitching the "Lincoln Prosperity Proposal" to Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and Representative Matt Rosendale. The proposal is the latest example of wide-ranging user groups coming together for the common good, with a multi-use approach for thousands of acres of public lands.
"We've had conversations with our delegation throughout this process, trying to keep them informed of what it is that we're working on, and yeah, so now it's just that more formal step," explains Karyn Good of the Upper Blackfoot Community Council.
The Lincoln Prosperity Proposal addresses everything from timber management, forest restoration, and fire safety to designation of motorized, and non-motorized trails, recreation, and conservation.
Eric Grove, who rides mountain bikes regularly on the local trails, worked with the collaborative group that helped develop the core of the Lincoln Prosperity Proposal.
"Well, it's really exciting...especially since you know I first came up to Lincoln to present some ideas on mountain bike development trail development back in 2007. So yes, it's been quite a while to see it to fruition. We're super excited to finally get to a point where we can deliver it to the delegation. Hopefully, they'll carry it through."
The pitch comes even as Lincoln is seeing growing interest in outdoor recreation. RVs are everywhere and more and more through mountain bikers, and hikers off the Continental Divide Trail, are using Lincoln as a supply stop.
Grove told MTN News it's that potential that has the varied user groups coming together, beyond political differences.
"One thing they did agree on eventually was what this landscape could look like and how the management could take place in a way that gave consistency to the folks in Lincoln and allowed them to plan for a little bit more economic vitality and some progress in that regard."
Even though the proposal is off to Congress now, Good says there are still plenty of opportunities for local residents to become informed and get involved.
"On the 29th of June, we have a very informal public get-together in Helmville trying to bring stakeholders and you know, just landowners together to learn as much as possible about the proposal. Answer questions that they might have," Good said.
"And then we're just asking folks who want to learn more who can't make public meetings like this to visit our website at lincolnprosperity.com. You can go there to learn just about everything you need to know about the proposal and to endorse it as well," Good continued.
The Lincoln Prosperity Project is already resulting in changes. This summer for the first time, mountain bikes are using a new single-track loop outside of Lincoln on Beaver Creek, as well as a new family bike trail and ATV trail.
Visit the Lincoln Prosperity Proposal website for additional information on the plans.