Brita Olson and Matt Nykiel clear out a fallen tree on a trail maintenance day. Photo courtesy of  Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness


Grant will help protect young horse riders from head injuries

A $750 Roundup for Safety grant to the RCA MT Pro Rodeo Royalty will help equip young horse riders with helmets and raise awareness about the importance of wearing proper helmets for safety. The group plans to host informational booths at each of their rodeos throughout the summer and conduct helmet drawings for children. The booths will be supervised by younger rodeo royalty, which the RCA says is a good way for kids to learn to help other kids.

In addition to RCA, Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Roundup for Safety Board also awarded grants for the following safety related community projects, bringing the total awarded at the July meeting to $11,395:

Christ Lutheran Church of Libby, MT – $1,000 for flooring and concrete slab; and

Deer Park School – $9,645 for stairs.

Roundup for Safety is a voluntary program for Flathead Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar, with the extra money going into a fund for community nonprofit safety projects. The Co-op is grateful to all who participate in enhancing the safety of our community. For additional information about the program, call Wendy Ostrom Price at 406-751-1820 or visit www.flatheadelectric.com/roundup.

Submitted by Wendy Ostrom Price


FSPW schedules volunteer dates for July trail work

Summer is here, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time to hit the trails.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has a full summer season of trail work planned. And we need your help to get it done. Volunteering for trail work is a great way to enjoy our wild backyard while making it better for everyone. To keep everyone safe this summer, FSPW staff have implemented strong social-distancing and safety procedures. So come on out and enjoy the outdoors without worry.

The following are dates scheduled for July trail work.

Goat Mountain Trail: July 17, 22, 26. We plan to spend some time here this coming season with a focus on tread work to maintain a degraded trail. It’s a nice hike with exposed uphill climbing.

Star Gulch Trail: July 31, Aug. 6. The trail work here will help rehab a burned area from a 2015 wildfire.

There are other ways to pitch in, too. You can adopt a trail to make maintenance a shared project with friends or family. Or become a Trail Ambassador to help hikers keep their distance from the wildlife — especially those iconic goats. We especially need hike leaders who can share their love of and knowledge of trails with a small group.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to sign up, visit www.scotchmanpeaks.org/volunteer. Or send an email to autumn@scotchmanpeaks.org.

Submitted by Cameron Rasmussen


Montana’s interstates see 34% increase in travel; 11% of bridges need repair or


A report released today shows that vehicle travel on Montana’s road system is increasing at one of the highest rates in the nation. And concurrent with the summer driving season, the survey noted that Montana’s interstate fatality rate is one of the highest in the nation.

The report was released by TRIP, a private, nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates, and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. At the request of the Montana Contractors’ Association, the report highlighted Montana statistics:

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on Montana’s Interstate in 2018 was 0.86 – the seventh highest in the U.S. – compared to 1.63 on the state’s non-Interstate routes.

TRIP estimates that additional safety features on Montana’s Interstate Highway System saved 32 lives in 2018.

Vehicle travel on Montana’s Interstates increased 34 percent from 2000 to 2018, the 13th fastest rate in the nation.

17 percent of Interstate travel in Montana is by combination trucks (semi tractor-trailer), the 10th highest share in the U.S.

4 percent of Montana’s Interstate bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, the 16th highest share in the U.S.

11 percent of Montana’s Interstate bridges are in need of repair or replacement.

“This confirms what we observe when we’re driving down the interstates of Montana,” said MCA Executive Director David Smith.  “There is more traffic, especially tractor-trailer traffic. It also is a reminder that we need to keep investing in our infrastructure.”

“Federal and state gas taxes pay for highway construction,“ Smith added. “These are taxes paid by the users, to benefit the users. With federal funds paying more than 80 percent of highway construction costs, Montana is extremely reliant upon the federal support.”

In order to match the federal support, Smith cited the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act (BaRSAA) which increases Montana’s fuel tax rate to $0.33 per gallon for gasoline and $0.2975 per gallon for diesel fuel. The increase of 6 cents per gallon over six years was approved by the legislature in 2017.

“HB473 helped us keep pace with the federal match and the backlog of funding. Much of that increase goes directly to cities and counties to fix local bridges and roads,” Smith said.

TRIP is a National Transportation Research Nonprofit. Founded in 1971, TRIP informs and promotes policies that improve the movement of goods and people, make surface travel safer, and enhance economic development and productivity. https://tripnet.org/

Submitted by Barry Houser