Out & About in the Blackfoot Valley

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Welcome to the Blackfoot Valley!

The Blackfoot Valley lies along the southern edge of the Crown of the Continent. It’s an extravagant mosaic of wetlands, potholes and land forms created by the retreat of once vast glaciers. The result is a great diversity of plant and animal life. The Blackfoot River headwaters atop the Continental Divide at Roger’s Pass and empties into the Clark Fork River east of Missoula, Montana. In its 132 mile journey, the river runs through some of the most productive fish and wildlife habitat in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

The pine, fir and western larch forests foster several rare plants, and rich wetlands attract breeding and migratory birds such as Sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans. Bald eagles nest and forage along the legendary Blackfoot River whose tributaries provide crucial spawning and rearing habitat for the federally listed bull trout and the westslope cutthroat trout. The valley is at the southern edge of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem which supports the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states.

Wildlife in the Valley

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This local herd of elk are seen regularly from our facility during the winter and early spring. As the snow continues to recede, the elk will move to higher grounds to prepare for the calving season of late May to early June. There was at least one young bull spotted in this herd. He had not lost his antlers yet. Bull elk lose their antlers in March and begin growing new ones in May. Photo taken March 13, 2013.

Fourth of July Weekend

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In Lincoln, we take celebrating Independence Day very seriously. From the spectacular fireworks show to the annual open rodeo – the family-friendly parade to the personal competition in the Dynamite Dash. For some, it is the opportunity to get away from it all – camp, fish, hike, trail ride, ride your ATV, float the Blackfoot River – for others, it is an opportunity to connect with family and friends. Lincoln offers it all – all weekend long – something for everyone. This small mountain town with a population of roughly 1,000 people easily swells beyond double throughout the weekend celebrations. There is so much going on in so many places, that it is hard to estimate just how many people visit our town over the weekend. One thing that we all know is just how important this weekend is to the survival of our small businesses and for our sense of community. If you visited us over the holiday weekend, thank you! If you didn’t – we missed you – come see us next year!

Hooper Park

Scapegoat CelebrationLincoln’s Hooper Park which sets at the edge of town, surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, hosts 26 camp sites, handicapped accessible restrooms, a pavilion for outdoor activities, water, trails and pet areas. Two baseball fields and horseshoe pits are available for the sport enthusiasts. Elevation is 5,500 feet. The park is host to many town activities, such as, flea markets, art in the park, festivals, and more.

Race to the Sky

Race to Sky 2013The Race to the Sky is a long-distance sled dog race held annually in Montana. There are several divisions offered at different distances, the longest race was originally a 500-mile (800 km) race but is currently 350 miles (560 km). It is a qualifying race for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and is sometimes called “The Iditarod of the Lower 48.”

The race was first held in 1986 and was a 500 mile competition called the Governor’s Cup Sled Dog Race. From the outset, it was a qualifying race for the Iditarod. In 1989, the race organizers incorporated as Montana Sled Dog, LLC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. That year, the race was temporarily renamed the Montana Centennial Sled Dog Race, honoring the centennial of Montana statehood. After that, it was called the Race to the Sky and other races with shorter distances were added to the program. The 500 mile format was the longest United States sled dog race outside of Alaska. A 250-mile (400 km) race was added in 1991, raised to 300 miles from 1993 to 1996. In 1997, the 500-mile race became a 350-mile race. The shorter race became 200 miles (320 km) for a time, and then a 100-mile (160 km) race for adult competitors and a 100-mile race for youth competitors were offered.

The race commemorates the World War II sled dog training camp that operated near Helena, Montana, the Camp Rimini War Dog Reception and Training Center. The facility trained as many as 800 sled dogs as war dogs for a potential invasion of Norway, a plan that ultimately did not materialize. Instead, the sled dogs were assigned to search and rescue missions in Greenland, Canada and Alaska. Pack dogs were also trained at the facility and about 125 soldiers were taught mushing skills to become drivers.

The first leg of the 350-mile race begins with an official start at the site of former Camp Rimini, near Rimini, Montana and ends near Exit 138 of Interstate 15 at Elk Park near Butte, Montana. The following day, the mushers and dogs are transported to Lincoln, Montana and the race restarts at that location. The 100-mile race also begins in Lincoln and finishes at Seeley Lake, Montana. The 350-mile race competitors continue past Seeley Lake to a turn-around point at Owl Creek, where they return to Seeley Lake and then to Lincoln to finish.

There are a number of checkpoints along the way where the dog teams stop for examination and spectators can view the progress of the race. The specialized veterinary care for the competition dogs is provided by veterinarians who are part of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association. The 2014 race raised funds to support the United States War Dog Association.

Participants in the Race to the Sky qualify to compete in the Iditarod.

Sculpture in the Wild

House-of-SkyBlackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild International Sculpture Park celebrates the rich environmental, industrial and cultural heritage of the Blackfoot Valley. Sculptors have been invited to create significant site-specific works of art using the materials – natural and industrial – that are associated with the community’s economic and cultural traditions.

The 2014 sculpture symposium brought together internationally respected symposium artists Steven Siegel (USA), Jorn Ronnau (Denmark), Alan Counihan (Ireland), Jaakko Pernu (Finland) and Kevin O’Dwyer (Ireland) on site to engage with it’s landscape, exploring it’s historical, environmental and industrial history through contemporary art practice.

Lincoln, Montana, a community nestled in the Blackfoot Valley, has been the center of rich, often times conflicting social, cultural and environmental values. Mining, logging and ranching has been the key economic factors that have sustained the community throughout its history. As the logging and mining industries have subsided over the past 25 years the community finds itself at a crossroads in both economic and cultural development. Reflecting on it’s history and looking towards the future, the community has chosen contemporary art practice to act as both a creative and economic catalyst.

So stop and take a walk in the wild and enjoy!

Huckleberry Season

Huckleberries-2014To the delight of huckleberry pickers, Montana offered a tremendous 2014 season! Wild huckleberries ripened about a week or two earlier than last year and proved to be bountiful. Good snowpack, mild temperatures during the blooming season and precipitation during a rainy spring may be attributable to the great season. The huckleberry season typically begins mid-July and can continue into early September. Word is that 2014 was the best huckleberry season in the last 10 to 15 years with berries the largest ever seen. One of our employees had the opportunity to come across this black bear still foraging the late-season berries on September 7th. The leaves are already displaying their reddish fall colors. But don’t fret…the bears did not get them all! Check out our Trading Post store for a great selection of huckleberry items or order online.

Hunting Season

Quinton Elk The valley offers excellent hunting opportunities. Quinton Grantier, a sophomore at Lincoln High School, shot this magnificent 7×7 bull elk on the opening day of Montana’s backcountry early rifle season 2012. His father has hunted the Scapegoat Wilderness and Blackfoot Valley all of his life and has been passing the tradition on to his three sons every fall. Their dedication to hunting has rewarded them with several bulls and cows throughout the years. After four seasons of searching and recently undertaking a three hour horseback ride into the backcountry, Quinton shot his first bull elk. What a trophy!

Click here to learn how you can share your own photos from the field (or stream). We’d love to hear your story, too!

 

Winter Time

Winter time in the valley starts with the Holiday Season. There are many events to help bring on the Holiday Spirit. Santa’s Workshop is an annual favorite among the youngsters from Lincoln and the surrounding communities. The Council for the Arts sponsors this event with the help of generous contributions from local businesses and individuals. Christmas tree lightings and town wide decorations spread Christmas cheer. 

Snowmobiling dominates the scene when the snow begins to fall. More than 250 miles of groomed trails and limitless play areas make Lincoln a snowmobiler’s dreamland. If you prefer the solitude of winter entertainment, the Blackfoot Valley provides cross-country ski trails and miles of skiing in the backcountry.