Montana will play host to a meeting discussing ways to improve the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. The trial is a 1,200 mile long non-motorized route that starts at the Continental Divide in Montana and goes all the way to Olympic National Park in Washington. Program Manager Matt McGrath says a third of the trail is road and that needs to change.

“Our non-motorized trail currently uses about 400 miles of roads and there is kind of the catch,” said McGrath. “It is a continuous opportunity, but we have 400 miles of roads that we have a non-motorized trail alongside of. One of our big projects is to work on getting the trail off of those roads.”

A group of volunteers and four federal employees will meet in Montana soon, to help guide trail development. The trail is the most recent national scenic trail and was approved by Congress in 2009.

“The group gets together and provides advice and recommendations to the Forest Service on how we should manage this trail going forward,” McGrath said. “When congress designated the trail, one of the requirements was to write a comprehensive plan. Instead of just managing individual segments of trail, Congress had instructed us to look at it as a 1200 mile Pacific Northwest Trail.

The council will meet November 2 and 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. According to McGrath, the trail is relatively unknown and only about 50 hikers are able to complete the trail each year.

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