Angela Brandt Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Bear Paw Nature Trail was recently adorned with interpretive panels, which tell the region’s history among other topics. Although to read the 18 signs now, recreationists would need to strap on a pair of cross-country skis to get to the Beaver Creek Park trail and an ice scraper to uncover them. A panel of volunteer community members, including historians and archeologists, was created to produce the information listed on the signs. How did the Bear Paw Mountains get their name? To find out, go to the trail. Topics covered range from the bluebird nests, which also follow the trail, to noxious weeds to information on the Chippewa Cree tribe on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. Chairman of the Hill County Conservation District Conrad Nystrom came up with the idea for the panels and brought it to the district’s board of supervisors, who were excited about the project. “It’s a nice venture. It’s something we can be proud of and that the community can be proud of,” Nystrom said this morning. The concept was to develop a trail to preserve Hill County’s history in addition to relaying messages about conservation, he said. Hill County Conservation District administrator Shannon Patterson applied for grant funding and the panels were paid in full with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks grants. “It’s first-class,” Nystrom said. Work began on the signage, which begins at Lions Campground and extends two miles south to the reservation line, in April of 2005. Patterson said it was a long process but the panels, which were installed on Nov. 20, were definitely worth the wait. “They are beautiful,” Patterson said this morning. Patterson said she hopes to extend the panels to cover the rest of the Bear Paw Trail, which she calls the “island in the prairie,” both north of the existing signs and south into the reservation. Two benches built by Nystrom are another addition to the trail. Nystrom also constructed the metal posts, which support the panels. “He was a big part of making this happen,” Patterson said. In addition to the panel of experts and the conservation district, Havre’s Patrick Construction also helped bring the idea to reality by clearing a portion of the trail. An opening ceremony will be held this spring after the snow thaws.