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FWP plans trail improvements in Bad Rock WMA

by By ETHAN VANDENBOSCH
| May 29, 2024 7:30 AM


Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks last month issued a plan to construct new trails, improve existing trails, and install boundary fencing at Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area near Columbia Falls.

Since acquiring Bad Rock Canyon WMA in 2021, FWP has pursued improving public access to the site by installing a parking lot off Highway  2 in Columbia Heights and managing the existing trail. The WMA provides a secure habitat for wintering wildlife like white-tailed deer and elk.

It is open to public use from May 15 to early December.

Gateway to Glacier Trail is a local non-profit that worked with the previous landowner to install 2.6 miles of trail on the property. The trail is open to non-motorized use only and traverses the property, this project proposes a partnership between FWP and Gateway to Glacier Trail to install improvements for public use.

Part of the improvements consists of constructing 0.4 miles of new trail to connect the Glacier to Gateway Trail and the newly constructed parking area off Highway 2, which would make a loop. FWP also plans installing about a half-mile of  wildlife-friendly installing fencing along areas where the WMA abuts private property.

FWP proposes that the trail updates will improve visitor experiences, prevent resource damage, and minimize conflict with neighboring private property owners where trespass is likely. Installing turnpikes and bridges on seasonally wet areas will reduce erosion and siltation on the existing Gateway to Glacier Trail. The additions to the WMA will also curb the creation of unofficial user-generated trails that could lead to resource damage. 

The open season provides recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. The Flathead River forms the WMA’s northern boundary.

The improvements to the trail could result in potential minor environmental impacts on terrestrial, avian, and aquatic life and habitat. The construction of trails and fencing and public use of those trails would result in limited wildlife disturbance during the recreation season when the WMA is open to the public, FWP claimed in its environmental assessment of the improvements.