Race Proceeds Benefit Swan Valley Ranger Program
Vital Ground was well represented at last summer’s Celebrate the Swan “Race for the Trails” competition. The eleventh annual foot race included a variety of distances and a first-ever bicycle competition. Vital Ground trustee Debi Strong and Rita Wolfe participated in the 5K walk, and Vital Ground Grizzly Council member Peter Guynn and Executive Director Gary Wolfe navigated the 17-mile bike ride, which in part was a tumultuous hill ride.
Funds raised by the competition, including Vital Ground’s donation to Race for the Trails, go to the recreational trails program to support funding rangers who clear trails, clean campsites and educate the public about keeping wilderness access safe along the Swan Front and Mission Mountains, which is part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, a grizzly bear recovery zone designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The entire zone includes Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountain Front, surrounding national forests and the Swan Valley, the location of the competition.
Vital Ground has been active with projects close by, including the Coyote Forest Conservation Easement, a 2005 agreement between Vital Ground and Bud Moore to place an easement on his 80-acre property. The Elk Flats Neighbors Project is the newest addition to Vital Ground’s work in the area and only a few miles from the “Race for the Trails” competition.
This portion of Montana’s Swan Valley not only serves as a magnificent place for outdoors enthusiasts to hike and bike, but also the area is extremely rich in elk, moose, deer and a variety of smaller species, including snowshoe hare and Canada lynx. Grizzly bears frequent the area as well.