A trail bridge project has been completed near Powell thanks to a partnership between the Missoula Snowgoers Snowmobile Association and the USDA Forest Service. Individuals working on this project utilized backcountry skills learned at the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute, held at the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests’ Powell Ranger Station from May 20–24.
In late June, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests trail crew members worked together with members of the Missoula Snowgoers to repair and improve a bridge on the Sno-12 trail near Powell. The wooden bridge was rotting and was too narrow to comfortably drive a trail groomer over, posing a safety hazard to Missoula Snowgoers members who groom ski trails at Lolo Pass during the winter. Using backcountry bridge–building skills, the two groups worked together to widen and repair the bridge. The Missoula Snowgoers will now be able to more safely operate their groomer over the bridge, allowing for more groomed trail opportunities and enhanced recreation opportunities at Lolo Pass.
The bridge project began during this year’s Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute, a program designed to provide opportunities for growth within the unique skill sets necessary for Wilderness management. The trails module of the Institute is structured to bring together Forest Service personnel, partners, and volunteers in a teaching environment that fosters the use and knowledge of traditional skills while working hand–in–hand to complete needed Forest Service trails work. This year’s module focused on skills needed to repair bridges on backcountry trails.
“The value of the Institute is that a mix of partners and agency personnel come together to learn these skills while doing hard work to accomplish needed trail maintenance. The Institute combines a lot of ‘learning’ with a lot of ‘doing’ to accomplish meaningful work,” says Kent Wellner, USDA Forest Service Northern Region Trails Program Manager.
The new–and–improved bridge is located on a section of the Sno-12 trail leaving Lochsa Lodge and heading towards Beaver Ridge. This area is part of a large loop snow trail that allows access from Lolo Pass to Lochsa Lodge, and is a favorite day trip for many snowmobilers.
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is greatly appreciative of the Missoula Snowgoers’ year–‘round help in providing quality recreational opportunities at Lolo Pass. Call the Lolo Pass Visitor Center at (208) 942-3113 for information on planning your next visit to Lolo Pass. Learn more about the Missoula Snowgoers at www.missoulasnowgoers.org.