Signs will be in the air — or at least on the ground — Tuesday that it again is time to slow down and use caution when driving through Beaver Creek Park.
The day after Labor Day is the start of cattle-grazing season, and park Superintendent Chad Edgar said this morning he expects about 3,000 cattle to be grazing in the park during the peak of the season in October.
In the fall grazing, the single largest source of revenue for the county park, ranchers contract to have their animals graze on the park starting the day after Labor Day and, generally, are allowed to keep their cattle on the park through the end of the year.
Each year the local and state government take steps to try to raise people’s awareness of the cattle and the need to drive cautiously on the park.
Despite that, car-cow crashes seem to happen each grazing season, with at least seven last year.
Edgar said that he thinks awareness of the need to be careful during grazing season is growing, but sometimes people — mostly people who don’t drive through the park often — seem to forget or not think about the cattle being on the highway.
He added that the biggest problem areas seem to be Rotary Hill, close to Bear Paw Lake, and straighter stretches of highway where people speed up such as south of that lake and on the north edge of the park.
Signs will be going up Tuesday to remind people of the need for caution, including orange signs with flashing lights put up by the park staff members, and signs with the seasonal night-time 35mph speed limit erected by the Montana Department of Transportation, which maintains the northern part of Beaver Creek Road, the common name for Montana Secondary Highway 234 that runs through the park.
MDT also will be placing a large sign Tuesday just south of Havre reminding people that livestock will be on the park.