Chipping In

Helping hands for public lands. 

Amid the recent public-lands whirlwind sweeping the nation, you might be inspired to roll up your sleeves, tighten your bootstraps, and get involved.

No matter your age, abilities, or allegiance, there are a number of ways citizens can pitch in to help maintain our public lands.

Trail Maintenance
If your inner trail dog is barking, heed the call by joining a volunteer trail crew. Last year, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation logged over 2,500 hours of trail maintenance with the help of some 225 volunteers. The organization has single- or multi-day projects with varying degrees of difficulty that kick off in early June. 

The Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association is hard at work at Copper City, and volunteers are always needs for impromptu dig days.

If you horsepack, lend your services to the Backcountry Horsemen of Montana. These trail riders clear miles of trail and remove hundreds of downed trees.

Trail Ambassadors
If you’re a people person who loves to hike, volunteering as a Trail Ambassador might be for you. Frequenting high-use trails, ambassadors interact with the public, kindly remind trail users of wilderness regulations, collect data on trail use, and report back on trail conditions. Nonprofits like the Friends of Hyalite, the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association, and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust are actively soliciting ambassadors to hit the trail and represent. 

Citizen Scientists
If you geek out over science and don’t mind getting your feet wet, joining a stream-team might float your boat. Since 2008, the Greater Gallatin Watershed Council has trained volunteer scientists each summer to monitor water quality on local streams. No experience is required, but there is a mandatory eight-hour volunteer training and the organization expects full commitment to at least two monitoring sessions. 

Weed Warriors
Want to brush up on your botany and help eradicate noxious weeds? Check out the Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance (formerly Big Sky Weed Committee) for information on upcoming weed-pulls. After hosting these community events on public lands for nine years, the nonprofit has collected and disposed of nearly 14,000 pounds of invasive plants. 

Cleanup Days
Never trash-talk the value of a good old-fashioned litter cleanup. There are an overwhelming number of organizations throughout our area who literally collect tons of garbage around town, riverbanks, fishing-access sites, trailheads, and roadways. Check out these groups for details on their cleanup events in the coming months.

City of Bozeman: Cleanup Day – Saturday, April 21
Southwest Montana Climber’s Coalition: Hwy. 191 Cleanup – Spring (TBD)
Friends of Hyalite: Cleanup Day – May 12
Gallatin River Task Force: Upper Gallatin River Cleanup – August 30
Greater Gallatin Watershed Council: Lower Gallatin River Cleanup – October (TBD)