Access to our rivers and streams is an integral part of what makes life in Montana so spectacular. That’s why, in collaboration with the community of Lincoln and Prickly Pear Land Trust, Five Valleys is excited about our recent river access project: The Lincoln Community River Park.
Less than a mile from the main drag of Lincoln flows the iconic Blackfoot River. Yet, the closest public access was four miles away. Longtime Lincoln resident Paul Roos told the Blackfoot Valley Dispatch this past summer that things were much different when he was a kid.
“I had access to all the water,” says Paul Roos, “and so did all the other kids. We either walked or rode bikes to the river and we learned, if nothing else, an appreciation for nature.”
Many community members felt the same, and a small working group began discussing a river park project in 2015.
After discussions with Helena’s Prickly Pear Land Trust and Five Valleys, Roos purchased the 9.5-acre site and then sold it to Five Valleys for development into a public river park. The parcel, located just a mile from town, hugs the southern bank of the Blackfoot River, just below the Stemple Pass Road bridge.
“The river literally runs right through this town and there was no place to reach it. We need to give people reasons to stop and stick around for a little while.” - Roger Dey, publisher of the Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
The project, the first of its kind for the community, was finalized in December 2016 with funding from the Lewis and Clark County Open Space Bond. Work to restore the land and develop the site into a quality public river park commenced in the summer of 2017, and is ongoing. With the help of the community and the Lincoln Community River Park Working Group, site has grown into a vibrant natural area, welcoming families, students and educators and nature enthusiasts alike.
Five Valleys is prepared to oversee management and development of the site until a more suitable long-term manager is selected. But one thing is certain: thanks to the perseverance and support of their community, Lincoln's kids again have access to their hometown river, and will continue to for generations to come.
Photos by Five Valleys staff
Fall is officially here, and Five Valleys is wrapping up another remarkable field season. I hope when you read through this newsletter that you take note of not just the landscapes themselves, but the stories of the communities and people on them.
The Rock Creek Confluence Property is providing a living laboratory for Five Valleys to grow and adapt to the needs of our community through collaborative community conservation.
In just two field seasons, the Lincoln Community River Park has grown into a popular community park, even as restoration and development efforts continue.