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Park Board talks technology and folf course


November 6, 2018

The Hill County Park Board met in the Hill County Courthouse Timmons Room Monday night and heard some potential developments in mapping the park and a new activity for the community.

Community member Lou Hagener said he spoke with Thomas Welch, professor in Montana State University-Northern’s College of Technical Sciences, regarding improvements for monitoring the park.

“He’s kind of our designated person to do the GIS — geographic information system — work and the mapping work and the GPS stuff,” he added.

Hagener showed the board members a map that Welch created showing the damage from the East Fork Fire in 2017 and said Welch was willing to do the same thing for Beaver Creek.

“He has also made the case that he really likes doing this kind of stuff,” Hagener said. “So he’s willing to do a lot more inventory things but also monitoring stuff.”

Hagener added he is meeting in January with Welch to prioritize which elements of the park should be monitored. Hagener gave examples of using Welch’s work to map fences, roads and trails, cabins and lots.

The general public has access to most of the information that goes into the monitoring projects, Hagener added, but there are some essential statistics that can only be accessed internally, and Welch has that access.

“Some of the stuff that Tom has generated — like this — are internal right now and not necessarily on the internet,” he said.

Using an unmanned aerial vehicle — a drone — also has potential for helping with monitoring around the park. Hagener said he was having some discussions regarding a demonstration of this new technology.

“This was a technique that was developed quite a long time ago with slow-moving aircraft,” he added. “And it’s pretty good.”

He said the drones, or UAVs, could be used in long-term monitoring for things such as beaver dams. The park could use the imagery from the UAV to pinpoint all the beaver dams in the park and then review the information five years later and look for trends.

One of the concerns, Hagener added, is the Federal Aviation Association’s rule about flying unmanned drones over parks.

“It is my understanding if you have a letter of authorization from the park managers, then you can go ahead and do it,” he said.

Discussions are still ongoing for the UAV mapping.


Park Superintendent Assistant Aubrey Williams said she received some feedback regarding the possible Frisbee golf, or folf, course that may be added to the park.

Williams posted a question on the park’s Facebook page asking the public for their feedback regarding the proposed course. Williams said she had about 30 people respond and all were in favor of putting in the course.

One of the most popular responses was that a folf course would provide more outdoor activities for the community to do at the park. There were also some concerns, Williams added.

One concern was about vandalism to the folf baskets. Another was regarding if part of the folf course was on a campsite that was already occupied and the occupants did not want any folfers in their campsite.

Discussion is ongoing regarding where to put the course.

“As far as location,” she said, “somewhere that would benefit kids and older people, as well.”

Park Superintendent Chad Edgar added that he felt the best place for it would be by “the new trail by Bear Paw Lake.”

He said it was a good spot because it doesn’t have the overlap of usage like Lions Campground and “parking chaos” like Kiwanis.

A decision hasn’t been made on the folf course as of now, but the park board is still asking the community for their feedback.


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