We at Five Valleys talk a lot about stewardship. But what is stewardship?
Conservation and stewardship go hand-in-hand. Conservation is the momentous, one-time act that protects a place. Stewardship is the care that ensures that place will continue to be protected, forever.
As Five Valleys celebrates its 50th year of land conservation, it's exciting to reflect on the incredible places we have helped to protect over the last half-century. It's even more exciting to reflect on our enduring commitment to steward those lands in perpetuity.
Five Valleys currently stewards 81,000 privately-owned acres across western Montana. As land passes from one owner to the next, Five Valleys is there to ensure that the land remains healthy and intact. We do this by building strong relationships with our conservation easement landowners, providing them stewardship resources and information, and visiting each of our nearly 200 conservation easements at least once per year. At the same time, we steward the properties we own-- the Rock Creek Confluence, the Lincoln Community River Park, and Marshall Mountain. These properties allow Five Valleys to complete land restoration, provide recreation and educational opportunities for our community, enhance and protect wildlife habitat, and cultivate diverse, equitable public access.
At its core, stewardship is a labor of love. Like you, we feel privileged to call this place home and want future generations to get to experience western Montana in the same ways we do now. While stewardship is a big commitment, it is achieved through every day acts of caring for the land, big and small: every time you move a branch off a trail or pick up after your dog on a hike, that’s stewardship. Helping to restore a stream bank? Stewardship. Attend a work day and pull weeds? Stewardship. Giving to the organizations that help protect and provide the lands you love? That’s supporting stewardship and helping to protect and preserve these special places.
How it works:
1. Register today and be entered to win cross country skis and poles from MTCX!
2. Ski anytime between February 14th-27th at your favorite spot. Be sure to track your ski distance or time.
3. Afterwards, use THIS FORM to submit your ski mileage.
4. Get excited that you're helping Five Valleys reach our goal of skiing 1,972 kilometers - in honor of our founding year, 1972 - and supporting stewardship across western Montana!
5. Tag Five Valleys in an Instagram or Facebook post about your XC adventure.
6. Plan your next ski outing.
This year we are taking our Ski for Stewardship commitment a step further by supporting the organizations who steward our favorite ski trails all year long. Half of each registration fee will be split three ways and donated to the Echo Lake Trails Association, the Missoula Nordic Ski Club, the Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club.
Not a big social media user? Email your photos to Katy at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share them for you!
Wanting to expand your ski horizons and visit some new trails? You're in luck, western Montana offers a wide range of options that are suitable for skiers of all levels.
The trails in the Seeley Lake area are managed by the Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club, and through December 1st-March 31st are ski only. The 18km of trails are groomed regularly and offer loops at varying distances. These trails are free to use, but a donation to Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club is encouraged.
Directions to Seeley Lake Nordic Trails
General information and grooming report
Located in between Philipsburg and Anaconda lie the Echo Lake nordic ski trails at the base of Discovery Ski Area. The Echo Lake trails offer miles of groomed and un-groomed options. These trails are free to use, but a donation to the Echo Lake Trails Association is encouraged.
Directions to Echo Lake Trails
General information and grooming report
There are several great ski options in Missoula or within a 30-45 minute drive. They include: Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, the UM golf couse, Lolo Pass Ski Area, Lubrecht Experimental Forest, and the Rattlesnake Recreation Area. Each of these places has their own guidelines, but many of them are managed and groomed by the Missoula Nordic Ski Club. Donations are encouraged to help support maintenance of these trails.
General information and grooming reports
Huge thank you to MTCX, the members of the Missoula Nordic Ski Club, Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club, and Echo Lake Trails Association for their tireless love and stewardship of the XC ski trails that enable our community to get outside and enjoy our landscape throughout the year. Stewardship has long been baked into the heart of the Nordic ski culture. Club volunteers are grooming trails before dawn, clearing downed trees, and organizing events. Love your local Nordic trails? Please respect local rules and guidelines, and consider joining, supporting, or volunteering for one of these fantastic local clubs.
Header photo courtesy of Forrest Boughner