Lewistown To Receive Fwp Trail Of The Year Award
The Lewistown Rails to Trails system will receive Montana’s Trail of the Year award from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Governor Brian Schweitzer during a celebration of National Trails Day on June 7 in Lewistown.
The Lewistown rails to trails conversion began December 2005 when the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad filed to discontinue use of the rail lines and abandon the right of way. The community of Lewistown immediately filed for a Notice of Interim Trail Use with the National Surface Transportation Board.
“This is a great example of seizing an opportunity that comes along once in a lifetime,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer. “The community of Lewistown took the initiative to say ‘no’ to a full abandonment by the railroad, and committed to transforming this resource into a community asset.”
Projects related to the trail building included rebuilding bridges, resurfacing the trail, and putting a hardened surface on some rail line in Lewistown with volunteer labor.
The City of Lewistown applied to FWP for a $375,000 federal trails grant for the project and it is about 65 percent complete in town. FWP administers Montana’s federal trails grant funds.
The Lewistown Rails to Trails system will encompass 14.25 miles of hiking and biking trail from Lewistown to near Moore when completed.
“The Rails to Trails project brings some great outdoor recreational opportunities to Lewistown on a trail that literally runs through most of our community,” said Duane Ferdinand, the City Planner for Lewistown. “As time and money allow, additional neighborhoods will be linked to the system.”
“This is another instance of a community working with a railroad to keep the rail line intact for community trail development,” said Clint Blackwood, the Trail Coordinator for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “The BNSF has been great to work with in creating a new resource for Lewistown that will benefit its citizens and help improve it’s economy. It will soon be known as a place with a great rails to trails program.”
For more on Montana’s State Trails Plan and trails grants, contact Clint Blackwood at 406-444-4585, or go to the FWP web site at fwp.mt.gov and click on Parks and Recreation and then Recreation.