The volunteers from the Great Falls Trail Bike Riders Association are an essential part of the trail maintenance on the multiple use trail system on the Lewis & Clark National Forest mountain ranges. The Highwood, the Castle, and the Little Belt mountains offer a wide range of multiple use trails that accommodate the motorized recreational opportunities for the people from Great Falls, surrounding communities, and is known by riders from around the state as providing a premier single track trail experience.
The Trail Safety and Maintenance Program has been an ongoing project since 1996 with funding for various years thru the OHV Grant program, the RTP program and the Yamaha Access Fund. In years when funding has not been available, the trails have been monitored by our members volunteering their time to see the motorized trails are safe and open for riders.
Our volunteers and their participation with the trail crew are intertwined, the combination made possible by the OHV grant funds. The volunteer crew most active is the “on any Wednesday” group. The regulars of this group are Ken Jacobson, Les Howard, Bert Beattie and Jim Super. These four retired fellows ride every Wednesday as well as weekends with other volunteers. Whenever there is a project, they are willing to take their time to help.
The trail crew consists of John Vehrs and George Chamarro, both have their saw and first aid certifications are are available from June through August.
Early in the year, club representatives meet with the USFS personnel to discuss the projects and plans for the trail system in the Little Belt Mountains and establish the priority list of trails, and complete the cost share agreement for each summer.
This is a ‘we are the first to be there’ project for our trails. Beginning in the spring when the snow goes out of the Highwood Mountains and onto other areas as the snow leaves and the trails are open, these riders are the first to cover the trails within the Highwood, Castles, and Little Belt Mountains. The mobility and ability to cover distances with the motorcycles allows us to monitor and inspect more miles of trails within our system than by any other means.
The trail crew is equipped with the tools necessary to accomplish many needed trail services on the spot. They are able to report back to the Forest Service of any trail problems with safety or environmental concerns that make the trails hazardous to travel. Any major safety maintenance issue encountered is reported immediately by phone or email.
Club volunteers report trail conditions and the information is relayed to the trail crew and the USFS contact. They report what was encountered on the trails weekly and work they have completed along with the trail numbers.
The grant for funding for 2013 summer has been submitted. Now we tune up saws, polish polaskis and wait for spring.