Alice Campbell Havre Daily News email@example.com
A section of the commonly travelled Bill Baltrusch Nature Trail is freshly paved, making it more accessible to people for everyday use, said Byron Ophus, a regular user. “Hopefully this just increases the access for everybody,” Ophus said. The trail, built several years ago, stretches 3 1/2 miles, depending on which fork the traveller takes, originally was topped with compacted gravel. But as of last Friday, 2 1/2 of those miles are paved. The paving was a project that Mayor Bob Rice advocated for, pushing to gain Community Transportation Enhancement Program funds to pay for the improvement. The Optimist Club made the match for the grant funds, Rice said. It was a project five years in the making, he added. Once all the prep work was finished, it only took one day last week to pave the trail, Rice said The Optimist Club, of which Ophus is the treasurer, also is heading up the effort to raise the gap funs of approximately $4,500. Already, several businesses have committed themselves to giving donations, Ophus said, but “if anybody wants to donate some money, we certainly wouldn’t turn it down.” Funds raised in addition to the needed money to fill the gap funding will be used for future improvements, Ophus said, adding that eventually he would like to see A compacted gravel trail run beside the paved trail. The option of gravel or pavement would make the trail even more accessible runners could use the gravel, for example, and parents pushing strollers and bikers could use the pavement he said. Other possible improvements include paving another section of the trail, working with Hill County administrators to improve sections of the levee along the Milk River and general maintenance, he added. Ophus said the club is planning a special run this fall “that would serve as a bit of a fundraiser but also get some folks out to use the trail.” The club is still working on the details, he added. A run held in the past raised some money, Rice said, adding that he hopes it will work again. Rice said he likes the trail, and has gotten positive feedback from people he’s passed on it. “I like it, and I hope everybody else does, and I hope they use it,” he said, adding that it’s a way for people to be health conscious.