Main Street to the Mountains Trail Maintenance

Remember seventh grade? Puberty, pimples, braces, the drama of discovering the opposite sex? The truth is, most of us were emotionally scarred by some traumatic middle-school event. But, maybe if we’d had teachers like Jennifer Royall, Karen Johnson, Brenda Johnson, Sue Livers, Gregg Perry, and Doug Livers, we¹d remember seventh grade in a more positive light.

With the help of Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) and a grant from the Milken Foundation, these brave teachers are getting 135 middle-schoolers out of the classroom and onto the trails to maintain the "Main Street to the Mountains" community trail system. For the past 12 years, GVLT has been actively working to expand and improve this trail system based in Bozeman, Montana. "In working with the middle-school students, we've found great partners for trails," says GVLT's Trail Program Director, Gary Vodehnal.

Their first step is education: to familiarize people with good trail etiquette and how to conduct yourself on trails. For this phase, the seventh-graders have made videos and written skits about: keeping your dog on a leash, cleaning up after pets, not straying off the trails, and being courteous while riding a bike. The students are using this material to educate elementary schools around the valley. So, don't be surprised if a kindergartener approaches you on Peets Hill and tells you how to properly use the trails!

The second step is community: how can the trails be more user friendly? To answer this question, the kids are visiting Aspen Point, Mountain View, and the Senior Center to find out what improvements could be made to make the trails accessible and enjoyable for Bozeman¹s older residents and for persons with disabilities.

The final step is trail work. For this stage, the students are planning to install signs and improve established trails in the Sundance Springs development. They will also be working on a stream restoration and wildlife habitat enhancement project on a tributary of the Mathew Bird Creek in McCleod Park. During science class, they will be growing various kinds of aquatic plants in the classroom and are waiting anxiously for the ground to thaw, so they can begin restoring the stream.

It’s exciting to know that the seventh grade can be more than just a dramatic time. And, it¹s even more exciting to see students become "future community leaders" by learning to respect and care for the beautiful scenery in their hometown. In helping fulfill GVLT's trail program mission, By Building Trails, We Build Community, the Sacajawea Middle School students are helping to enhance the quality of life here in southwest Montana.