New trail plan part of overall Butte-Anaconda connection
Montana Standard (Butte), 2014-02-21
Feb. 21--When it's all said and done, residents and tourists will be able to ride their bikes or walk on a designated trail from Anaconda to Butte.
That's the goal of the Anaconda Trails Society.
And the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commissioners are on board. Commissioners this week voted to support application of the Anaconda-Crackerville Greenway to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks' Recreational Trails Program grant.
The $200,000 grant will allow the Anaconda Local Development Corp. and the trails group to finalize a route from the East Yards to Fairmont and complete initial construction of one to two miles of the 11-mile trail.
The competitive grant focuses on the regional significance of trails. Organizers think the Anaconda plan has a good chance of getting the money.
"It's a really unique project," said Jamie Roessler, a junior technical adviser with the Arrowhead Foundation. "Our region isn't always known for trails like other places in Montana. It's really new and groundbreaking for our area, especially tying into Butte's Greenway and trail district. The Anaconda-Butte region is really coming to life when it comes to trails."
The idea for the Anaconda-Crackerville Greenway trail was created in the 1990s as the Yellow Ditch Trail, which would have followed the mining plume of the same name. The plume ran from the smelter site east toward Silver Bow Creek. Due to a change in the way remediation of the Superfund site was done in the area, however, that route is no longer viable.
The Arrowhead Foundation, which is under the auspices of the Anaconda Local Development Corp., plans to work with landowners along the proposed route to grant easements.
"We're really focusing in this first phase to develop a trail that's user friendly for trail users of all abilities and ages," Roessler said. "We're communicating with landowners so that this trail respects their needs as well as connecting to where we want to go."
Walkers and bikers do not have a way to get to Fairmont from Anaconda except along the highway and county roads.
"I bike on those roads and it's a little scary sometimes," Roessler said. "This trail will make sure our pedestrians are safe and our motorists are safe."
The trail -- which will be either blacktop or concrete -- will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Connecting Anaconda to Butte will result in nearly 40 miles of continuous trails.
"The communities are so historically connected; it's amazing we could do that recreationally as well," said Roessler.
(c)2014 The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.)
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