Posted: Aug 30, 2012 9:12 AM by Laura Wilson - KAJ News
Updated: Aug 30, 2012 9:15 AM
KALISPELL- A recent grant awarded to Flathead County has put a Kalispell organization much closer to its goal of connecting Herron Park to the forest lands at Blacktail Mountain. The money will help fund a plan to more than double the size of the park, while simultaneously preserving public lands and resources.
When it comes to the Foy's to Blacktail organization, volunteers say community support has always been there, just not the money. That is until now. The U.S. Forest Service has awarded Flathead County with $400,000 as part of a new program to support jobs and healthy forests nationwide.
"We've been toiling and going through fundraising plans and so many presentations to local groups. Our grants committee really came through on this one, this is huge," Foy's to Blacktail Trials Chairman Cliff Kip explained.
Only ten forest community projects were chosen for the grant.
"I've worked a lot in the public sector doing grant work and it tells me that Foy's to Blacktail has done a wonderful job managing their money, putting the money to great use, and having great benefits to the public," Kalispell resident Mike Fraser said.
"This is by far, the largest grant we've received. It really demonstrates a vote of confidence for our project and kicks us over into an area where we have less than 1 million dollars to raise to finalize our objective." Kip added.
The Foy's to Blacktail Trails organization has added 150 acres to Herron Park since 2009, and say they'll use their new grant to buy an additional 170 acres on the west and north side of the park.
"I've lived near Herron Park for probably about 20 years, and it's been fun to see it develop. It's kind of one of the places that is untouched. You can still go running, biking, hiking, horseback riding, and you can bring your dog up here. We just don't have a lot of places like that that are close to town," Kalispell resident Susan McEwen observed.
Kip says the grant has allowed for his organization to shift from a recreation to forestry based. "We're going to start to integrate interpretive displays, community education about forestry, best management practices for healthy forests-things like that."
Foy's to Blacktail Trails hopes to increase Herron Park to 440 acres, so their fundraising efforts are not over yet. They will have until the end of 2015 to buy acreage outlined in the project's remaining three phases.
Click here to learn more about how to support Foy's to Blacktail Trails.