Kalispell trail project will benefit from public input

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The city of Kalispell is off and running with the first round of design work on the long-awaited trail that will be built on the railroad bed once the tracks are removed.

The 1.6-mile section of trail from the railroad’s intersection with U.S. 2 to North Meridian Road offers a world of possibilities for businesses to tap into the proximity of a route that literally will run through the heart of Kalispell. Construction of the trail could begin by fall 2020, although city officials have noted the timing will be affected by ownership transfers, environmental assessments and possible remediation.

Kalispell plans to move through the design process in segments that will review the design at intervals of 30, 60 and 90 percent completion. The Kalispell City Council last week tackled the 30 percent segment that shows the proposed trail alignment within the right of way, existing street crossings, landscape plans and entrances to the trail and some vision for integration with surrounding properties.

Now is the time to get involved with weighing in on the project. The 30 percent design document will be open for a 30-day public comment period, probably next month after it goes through the Federal Rail Administration review.

The design plan can be found on the city’s website at www.kalispell.com/AgendaCenter/City-Council-Agenda-8/

With more and more people floating the upper end of the North Fork of the Flathead River, federal land managers are starting to look seriously at implementing a permit system to limit the number of river users.

The knee-jerk reaction of outdoors enthusiasts who have enjoyed floating that stretch of river whenever they want is that it seems unfair for anyone to dictate use of the beloved North Fork. But the reality is the river is bulging at the seams with users, and safety is a paramount concern.

It behooves river users to get involved in the process. The U.S. Forest Service is on the cusp of releasing more information about this in a new Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Wild and Scenic forks of the Flathead River. Meetings will be held sometime early next month, so stay tuned and stay involved.

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