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Park board approves haying and grazing policy


Hill County Park Board Monday approved the next step in amending the the haying and grazing policies and procedures at Beaver Creek Park by sending its haying and grazing committees’ draft of changes to be reviewed by the county attorney.

Hill County Commissioner and park board and committee member Diane McLean told the board that the committee met last week and reviewed the draft of the policy, making a few changes to the language. She added that she called the draft a policy instead of an ordinance because it fit that category better.

She said it was generally unclear if the document was a policy or an ordinance due to the nature of the document. The Haying and Grazing Committee is held to the rules specified in this document, unlike any other committee of the park board, she said, adding that she would like the park board to determine the proper wording for the document.

The board agreed to send the draft to the county attorney as a policy, due to previous documents fitting the definitions of a policy.

Community member Bob Williams said it would be easier to change if it were a policy, and he suggested the committee make that change before sending it to the county commission.

McLean said the document is not finished and the board can review it and make changes before sending it to the county commissioners for first reading. She added that the document will also need to have a public comment period for community members to review.

Board member Renelle Braaten said she read over the document and was concerned about the language for weed management, adding that the policy does not later specify what weed management it is referring to.

McLean said that, historically, Beaver Creek Park has a spray day, with ranchers who are involved with the park voluntarily spraying for weeds, with spray purchased by the park. She added, that had never been a policy.

Braaten said weed management usually means to check and watch for weeds.

Aubrey Williams, assistant to Beaver Creek Park Superintendent, said language in the haying and grazing policy draft does require cleaning weeds off of equipment.

McLean said that if people think the draft needs more about weeds then they can take it to the committee, although they may be able to pursue that without holding a meeting.

The board approved the draft contingent on McLean adding language about weeds.

Braaten, the sole vote against sending the draft to the county attorney, said she voted against it because of the lack of clarity in the weed management.

Monitoring project

Community member Lou Hagener updated the board on monitoring Beaver Creek Park. He said he met with a few members of the state Natural Resources Conservation Service and Montana State University-Northern Associate Professor Terri Hildebrand about the project.

He said Hildebrand has made progress getting grants and is lining up students for various aspects of the monitoring. She has several jobs for the monitoring, he said, adding that she has money through grants to pay students for the coming year.

Hagener said Hildebrand has some concerns about the board letting her publish scientific papers from the monitoring project. He said these papers help her receive some of the grants she has applied for as well as being able to contribute to the “body of science.”

He said that the park board will have to consent to the publishing of the findings.

Any scientific paper published would be reviewed and has to go through peer review before publication in order to assure cooperation from the board, he said.

“Wording needs to be worked out as needed cooperators will provide access to data collected and are encouraged to keep original or copies of data collected for their own files,” Hagener said.

He added a report about monitoring released last week by Hill County Conservation District reviewed the summary of fivc studies which were originally established in the 1990s.

Hagener said he has heard rumors that some conclusions in this report were made prematurely.

“I strongly caution the board and the public to take an objective and open-minded view of what is in and being said about this report before jumping to conclusions about what this report actually indicates,” he said.

Folf and Havre Trails

Havre Trails organizer Lindsey Brandt-Bennett told the board she felt the board did not support a proposed folf course, and if the board doesn’t want to permit the folf course she can find another place in the area.

The park board agreed the subject is still in discussion phase, and they have not made a decision.

“In the future, should it not become a folf area, it would be a really kinda neat little hike, actually,” Brandt-Bennett said.

McLean said the area for the proposed folf course is not a highly used area, although cows will most likely rub up on the equipment during the grazing months.

Brandt-Bennett said that this was a concern that she did not previously think about and would have to reconsider the location because the equipment could not be removed after it is installed and cows would likely damage the equipment.

Perhaps, down the road, if someone wants to invest in the folf course, she said, they would be able to install removable ones.

The board agreed to keep the subject on the agenda throughout the winter see if it develops. They also agreed that to consider the maintenance of the equipment and the amount of interest that is generated in the community.

Board Vice Chair Larry Kinsella, who was chairing the meeting, said if any other ideas are raised or if Bennett finds another place better for the folf course she should keep the board informed.

Brandt-Bennett said that Havre Trails received a grant to promote the new Rotary Canyon trail through the Montana Department of Tourism. The money provided in the grant will primarily be used for printed materials, such as signage and posters, she said. The Havre Trails match funds will include a parking area and some additional work on trail.

She said that she wanted to bring attention to the letter of support Williams wrote, adding that she appreciates the support they received from the park board and from Williams.

The Havre Trails Committee is looking at maps to promote that area for hiking and other area, she said. Brandt-Bennett said if there are any thoughts or input, she would be glad to hear it.

“We don’t want to, like, duplicate the map that is more focused on camping and other things, but we do want to make sure that we are not creating something that is going to confuse people either,” she said.


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