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Montana 4X4 groups trying to raise funds to reopen trail

Posted at 11:10 AM, Feb 06, 2022

HELENA — The McKelvey Lake trail, a multi-use motorized and off-highway vehicle trail, was recently found to be unusable due to recently condemned bridges by the U.S. Forest Service. Now, groups of 4X4 enthusiasts are trying to raise the money to fix them up.

After over 30 years of use and natural deterioration, the bridges tucked away in the Tobacco Root Mountains of Montana are condemned. These bridges connect a trail that leads not only to McKelvey lake but other surrounding bodies of water.

The Forest Service calculated that the renovations would cost approximately $60,000. But because of budget and priorities, it could potentially be years before the government agency could renovate the bridges. That’s exactly why certain groups such as Frontier 4X4 Club, Bozeman Mountaineers 4X4 Club, and the Montana 4X4 Association have banded together in order to make the changes themselves. After deliberation between the Forest Service and interested parties, a plan was settled on in November of 2021. It’s estimated that with the use of donated equipment and volunteer labor, the project could cost around $30,000 and could begin as early as July of this year if funds are made.

“Basically, if we want the trail opened anytime in the near future then it is beneficial for us, and for them, to work together and get these done. And like I said, about 40 years ago one of the folks that’s part of this coalition now, that's doing this, the Bozeman Mountaineers 4X4 Club out of Bozeman, of course, built those bridges in the late 70’s, as it was,” says Richard Hiltz, the Montana 4x4 Trail Projects Coordinator.

The majority of the labor for the project will be done voluntarily by the folks attempting to raise the funds and will be primarily directed by the Forest Service. As of this Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe page has raised a little over $700 of its goal of $15,000.

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