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  • United States Department of Agriculture

    Forest Service

    Northern Region

    Helena-Lewis and Clark

    National Forest R1-17-01 December 2016

    Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act

    Non-Motorized Trail

    Improvement Study

  • Cover photo: Mountain bikers on a National Forest Trail. Photo by Michael Chapman, used by permission with all

    rights reserved by photographer.

    Contents

    Purpose and Background ............................................................................................................................................ 1

    Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act ................................................................................................................. 1

    Travel Management ......................................................................................................................................... 1

    Study Approach ................................................................................................................................................ 1

    District Overview ........................................................................................................................................................ 2

    Roads ................................................................................................................................................................ 2

    Developed Recreation Sites .............................................................................................................................. 2

    Trail System ...................................................................................................................................................... 3

    Current Proposed Opportunities by Location: ........................................................................................................... 3

    District-Wide Opportunities for Non-Motorized Recreation Improvement..................................................... 3

    Badger Two Medicine ....................................................................................................................................... 5

    Blackleaf-Teton ................................................................................................................................................. 7

    Sun Canyon ....................................................................................................................................................... 9

    Little Willow South (including Benchmark) .................................................................................................... 11

    Appendix 1: Recreation Site Tables .......................................................................................................................... 13

    Badger-Two Medicine Area ............................................................................................................................ 13

    Blackleaf-Teton Area ...................................................................................................................................... 13

    Sun Canyon Area ............................................................................................................................................ 14

    Little Willow-South (Including Benchmark) .................................................................................................... 15

    Maps

    Map 1: Overview Map ......................................................................................................................................... 4

    Map 2: Badger-Two Medicine Area ..................................................................................................................... 6

    Map 3: Blackleaf-Teton Area ............................................................................................................................... 8

    Map 4: Sun Canyon Area ................................................................................................................................... 10

    Map 5: Little Willow – South, Including Benchmark .......................................................................................... 12

  • Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Non-Motorized Use Study | 1

    Purpose and Background

    The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Rocky Mountain Ranger District, as directed by the Rocky Mountain

    Front Heritage Act, has completed a study of potential improvements for non-motorized recreation trail

    opportunities and trailhead facilities on land not designated as wilderness within the Rocky Mountain Ranger

    District (RMRD).

    The intent of this Study was for the non-motorized recreation community to help the Forest Service identify work

    priorities when funds are available. The study should help maximize work beneficial to non-motorized users, with

    emphasis to those traveling by bicycle. The completion of the following improvements in this document are

    contingent upon funding levels and the priorities discussed below.

    It is the intent of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest that this document will be amended as projects are

    either accomplished or new projects warrant an addition.

    Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act

    The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (RMFHA) was signed into law on December 19th, 2014, under Public Law

    113-291; 128 Stat. 3835 (section 3065 (f) of the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense

    Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015”).

    As directed by the RMFHA “the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with interested parties, shall conduct a

    study to improve nonmotorized recreation trail opportunities (including mountain bicycling) on land not

    designated as wilderness within the district.” The RMFHA defines a nonmotorized recreation trail as “a trail

    designed for hiking, bicycling, or equestrian use.”

    Travel Management

    The study will not supersede current travel management or travel plans for the District. Travel management for

    the RMRD was completed in 2007 (Birch Creek South) and 2009 (Badger Two Medicine). The RMFHA designated a

    Conservation Management Area (CMA) which permits motorized use only on existing routes and areas that were

    allowed as of the date of the enactment of the Act. The Badger-Two Medicine (BTM) area (outside the CMA) was

    limited to predominately non-motorized travel in the 2009 Travel Plan decision. This study is not a review of the

    CMA or travel management decision for the BTM; no changes will be made to the current travel management

    designations as a result of this study.

    Study Approach

    The RMRD is evaluating non-motorized opportunities in four categories.

    • National Forest Road System open to the public • Developed Recreation Sites and Trailheads • National Forest Trails System • Public Access to Non-Motorized Recreation Opportunities

    Opportunities within each category have been split into four geographic locations along the RMRD, starting on the

    north end of the District and moving south

    • Badger Two Medicine • Blackleaf-Teton • Sun Canyon • Little Willow south (including Benchmark)

  • Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Non-Motorized Use Study | 2

    District Overview

    Roads

    The Rocky Mountain Ranger District Road Complex consists of 94 miles of roads open yearlong or seasonally to

    motorized travel and 10 miles of roads closed yearlong to motorized travel.

    Developed Recreation Sites

    Developed Recreation Sites are those sites throughout the District where human-made improvements have been

    added either for the enjoyment and comfort of users or to prevent resource damage. These sites include rental

    cabins, campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads, boat launches and interpretive sites. In general, trailheads and

    campgrounds are built to accommodate all types of users (both motorized and non-motorized). Some sites have

    had features added to aid equestrian users such as feed bunks and hitch rails. Overnight camping is prohibited

    within 200 ft. of any developed trailhead facility on the District, unless otherwise posted. However, there are

    trailhead facilities that have adjacent camping facilities (See Tables 2-5 in Appendix 1).

    On the Rocky Mountain Ranger District developed sites are located from the southern tip of Glacier Park along

    Highway 2 south to the Dearborn River. This is approximately 160 linear miles. (See Map 1)

    Each developed site contains a unique set of “features” which are the man-made improvements located within

    the site. See Appendix 1 for tables displaying the various features associated with each developed site on the

    district.

    The Recreation budget for the operation and maintenance of these sites has trended downward for the past 8

    years, experiencing over a 61% decline at the District level.

    Until 2013 the Forest Service’s Northern Region had a program where recreation facility maintenance and roads

    funds were allocated to each Forest for large scale recreation site rehabilitation projects. These projects were

    deemed Recreation Capital Improvement projects. At this time there is not currently a funding avenue for new

    construction or large