During the first week of August, volunteers from the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers teamed up with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation to clear trails and initiate treatment of a Canada thistle infestation in the heart of the Bob. Volunteers spent seven days in total on the Grizzly Park project, including a day to hike the 14 miles in, four days of hard work, a day off for fishing and the final day for the long trek out.
Here is the trip by the numbers:
- 3+ miles of trail cleared
- 208 trees cut and removed
- 80 gallons of herbicide carefully hand sprayed on invasive thistles
- 3 total acres treated
- Dozens of fish caught
- 8 blisters taped
- 1 toenail lost (most likely anyway, we will see)
- 7 great backcountry dinners devoured
- 1 set of fresh wolf tracks found
- 2 sets of grizzly tracks found
- 7 bull elk in velvet seen
- 1 can of bear spray accidentally and harmlessly discharged
- 1 thunderstorm enjoyed
- 1 “chance of rain” resulted in 7 1/2 hours of deluge and soggy - but still productive - volunteers
Even with the best intentions and a “leave no trace” ethic in the forefront of our minds, backcountry recreationists often spread invasive weeds, perhaps unknowingly. In this specific case, it was clear that the invasives were introduced via pack animals, including hunting guides and outfitters. It felt good - and on some level redeeming - for us sportsmen and women to undo some of the negative “traces” left behind by hunters.
Montana BHA was happy to contribute $1,800 to make this project a reality, and we can't thank our volunteers and our friends at the BMWF enough for actually making it happen. To commit a week of Montana's summer is a big sacrifice, and we are very grateful.
Despite the heat and smoky skies, followed by persistent cold rain, the hours of hard labor and the magnitude of the task ahead of us, every volunteer was eager for more and looking forward to the next trip. The great fishing, good food, excellent jokes (mostly mine), scenery, camaraderie and the fascinating history of the 'misery whip' all probably had something to do with it, but mostly, it was the chance to give back to legendary wild places like the Bob that made this trip so rewarding.
We hope you can join us on the next one because the work on weeds in the area has only just begun, and we're already working on future plans to see that the job gets finished. If you're interested in joining us on projects like this, be sure to check out our events page, join BHA as a member and follow us on social media. If you're interested in Bob-specific projects, be sure to sign up for the BMWF's email newsletter as well.