Walks on the wild side

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From scintillating citizen science to leisurely wildflower walks, nonprofit organizations are providing a plethora of guided spring and summer outdoor opportunities for the public — no need to wait for an excuse to leave your chores for another day.

The Montana Wilderness Association has more than 100 free day hikes, overnight trips and trail maintenance projects across the state from May to September, 18 of which are in Northwest Montana. Join a group to bag a peak or go birding with an experienced naturalist.

The entire Wilderness Walks schedule is posted on the association’s website at www.wildmontana.org/walks. You don’t have to be a member to sign up but members do have a two-week advance window before registration opens to the general public.

Volunteers can also sign up for trail projects. Check out the schedule starting May 1 at www.wildmontana.org/trailvolunteer.

For more information, contact Amanda Hagerty at 406-443-7350, ext. 108, or email ahagerty@wildmontana.org.

The Montana Native Plant Society sponsors a wide variety of field trips including wildflower walks, strolls and nature hikes. All trips are guided by experienced naturalists and are free and open to the public.

Each Tuesday during May, Anne Morley leads a morning stroll along the Swan River Nature Trail in Bigfork. Bring your binoculars and a hand lens if you have them to explore the flora. The group meets at 10 a.m. outside the Show Thyme Restaurant.

On Thursday, June 1, Morley will lead the annual Sprunger-Whitney Nature Trail Stroll into old growth forest south of Swan Lake on a trail once used by the Pend d’Oreille and Bitterroot Salish Indian tribes and later by Lewis and Clark. For more details and to sign up, call Morley at 886-2242.

Many other trips are planned May through August. Some of the other events the Native Plant Society has scheduled take place in the North Fork and Libby, and there’s a tour of the Native Plant Nursery in Glacier Park, and a ScienceCache hike along the park’s Highline Trail.

For more information, email mnps.flathead@gmail.com or view the Montana Native Plant Society website at www.mtnativeplants.org or call 406-886-2242.

The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center in Glacier National Park is looking for volunteer citizen scientists to collect research data for park managers this summer.

A one-day training is recommended to learn how to identify, observe and record information on everything from bighorns to loons and how their habitats are affected by human disturbances.

Contact the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at glac_citizen_science@nps.gov or 406-888-7986 to sign-up for training or for more information.

Flathead Audubon also sponsors a slate of spring and summer field trips. Though participation is limited, their variety and frequency suit many folks’ calendars.

Audubon’s trips are guided by experienced biologists, birders and conservationists. Highlights include a bird festival May 25 at the Ninepipes area south of Ronan, a tour of the Flathead Lake Biological Station June 19 and a night investigating bat habitat July 28.

For a complete roster, go to the organization’s website www.flatheadaudubon.org and click on “Activities and Field Trips” or call president Kay Mitchell at 756-8130.

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