By Patrick Winderl
When Chad Edgar and Amy Martin arrived at their new job last month, they hit the
"We still have boxes everywhere. We haven't even unpacked yet - we haven't had time," Martin said.
As the new management team at Beaver Creek Park, the couple had their work cut out for them when they started just one week before Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the park.
There's been maintenance work at the park's 10 campgrounds - fixing picnic tables, removing garbage, cleaning toilets, repairing damage done by vandals - and plenty of work elsewhere as well. The couple have kept busy maintaining bridges, selling park permits, checking campsites and mowing. Lots of mowing.
"This rain has been great," Edgar said Wednesday at the lodge at Kiwanis Campground, a building on a hill that provides a vantage point for much of the surrounding park. "But you can see how much grass there is."
The grass has grown rather quickly thanks to recent rains. At Kiwanis camp, between the maintenance shop, office building, lodge, rec hall and 13 cabins are 8 or 9 acres of grass that need mowing at least once a week. Each of the other nine campgrounds in Beaver Creek Park - all with at least an acre of grass - also need to be mowed on a weekly basis.
"Whenever the sun is shining, we're going to be mowing," Edgar said.
"We're mowing (each campground) every five to seven days," Martin added.
Edgar and Martin, who are engaged, recently took the reins from Bernie and Donna Golie as the superintendent and secretary for Beaver Creek Park. The park, which stretches nearly 20 miles from north to south and covers more than 10,000 acres of land, is one of the largest county parks in the United States.
The Golies, who managed the park for more than 20 years, retired last month. Although managing such a large park can be daunting, Edgar and Martin said the transition has been smooth, thanks in large part to the Golies. For two weeks, the former managers helped their successors learn the ropes.
"They helped out a lot," Martin said.
"There's a pile of information in that guy's head and for two weeks I just soaked it up," added Edgar.
Still, the couple are learning as they go.
"This job has a lot of titles," Edgar said. "I don't have much free time during the day. I wake up first thing in the morning and go until dark."
Because managing Beaver Creek Park is often a round-the-clock job, the county provides a house for the park superintendent. The log home is located above the main office at Kiwanis Campground.
Edgar and Martin relocated to Beaver Creek Park from Billings, though they have struggled to find time to move into the home.
Martin, a native of Bozeman, has been working two jobs for the past few weeks, as she finishes her work as an emergency room medical technician at a hospital in Billings.
"I've been driving a lot lately," she said.
Edgar, a Billings native who graduated in 1998 from Montana State University-Northern with a degree in biology, left his job performing asbestos abatement inspections for a geotechnical firm in Billings to assume the responsibilities of Beaver Creek Park superintendent.
"I always liked it out here," he said. "I have friends here. I like to meet people and this is just a neat place to do it."
The best part of his new job is getting to work outside, said Edgar.
"I just like being outdoors working. Instead of sitting around indoors, I'd rather be outside doing something, and with this job I get to do that," he said.
As park secretary, Martin handles the majority of the paperwork. That includes processing camping and grazing permits and paying bills. Although there is a considerable amount of work to do in the office, she also helps out in the park.
"Generally we plan some work event for the next day, whether it be mowing or cleaning, or garbage day, or we might split up and work on a couple different things," Edgar said.
The couple are also busy gearing up for the Fourth of July weekend. In preparation, every campground in the park must be mowed, and "No Fireworks" signs must be put up.
"It'll probably be a problem this year because people won't think there's a fire danger," Edgar said.
Summer is definitely the busiest season for the park, but that doesn't mean that the work ends on Labor Day.
"We'll manage the cattle grazing in the fall, and the winter is when we do a lot of the maintenance work," Edgar said.
For now, Edgar, Martin and the park's two seasonal summer employees are keeping busy. Recently, equipment failures have kept the team scrambling to stay on top of all their summer work.
"Everything's getting pretty old. It seems like something breaks down every day," Edgar said, laughing.
When time allows, the new super said he likes to visit with those who use the park.
"When it slows down, I like to just drive around and see what's going on - stopping to talk to people, checking park permits. That's the most relaxing part of the job, actually," he said.
Edgar, who won an NAIA wrestling championship at MSU-Northern as a 135-pounder, thanked his former coach for his new job.
"I got a call from David Ray, and he said, 'Hey, the park job is open,'" Edgar said. "I did a little checking and found out the job closed in two days, so I threw some things together, and it must have been OK because they called me for an interview."
Edgar was one of more than 15 applicants for the park superintendent job. Martin was one of five candidates for the park secretary position. The salary for the superintendent is $21,915 while that of park secretary is $14,160.
Although Edgar and Martin said they love their new jobs, both said they are discouraged by vandalism in the park. Some visitors leave their trash for others to clean up, and some tear down signs and picnic tables to fuel their camp fires.
"I would have to say the worst part is the vandalism," Edgar said. "It's too bad. The park is here for everyone to use. Why destroy it?"
The sheer size of the park and the number of camp sites make it tough to catch vandals, he said.
"We can't be everywhere at once. A lot of it is happening at midnight or 4 in the morning. It's tough to keep tabs on it 24 hours a day," he said.
Beaver Creek Park's new managers said they are taking things in stride, and are quick to credit their predecessors.
"We heard what it was like out here before they got here. They've really done a lot," Martin said.
"Bernie did a great job out here. It's pretty remarkable," Edgar added.