Three Forks Voice - Connect With Your Community!

By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Rails-to-Trails event takes place in Three Forks


Kevin Belanger with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy addresses a large crowd last Wednesday at the John Q. Adams Milwaukee Park. Voice photo by Melissa Jenkins

The City of Three Forks was one of four locations nationwide to host a live reveal of their preferred cross-country route for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Great American Rail-Trail.

A signature project of the RTC, the Great American Rail-Trail will connect nearly 4,000 miles of rail-trails and other multiuse trails across 12 states and Washington, D.C Along with the May 8 event in Three Forks, other live reveals took place in Washington D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Cle Elum, Washington.

Kevin Belanger, a trail planner for the Rails to Trails Conservancy said they were very excited to be in Three Forks.

"When we had to pick a location in the Mountain West, we knew Three Forks was the place we had to go," he said. "We love it here, it is great."

Belanger told the audience that the Headwaters Trail System is exceptional and one of the Gateway Trails of the route.

Belanger also lauded the work of longtime Three Forks Mayor and current council member Gene Townsend and his wife Pat Townsend.

"This would not be happening without them and the Headwaters Trails System would not be happening without them," he said.

Discussing the full route of the trail, Belanger said the project has been a dream of the conservancy for thirty years and when they learned it was 52 percent complete it was time to really invest in the project.

"A trail across Montana is a reality, an inevitably, and a necessity," Belanger said.

He also thanked the Gallatin Valley Land Trust for cohosting the event that took place at the John Q. Adams Milwaukee Railroad Park.

Townsend said being chosen to host the event was a great honor for the Headwaters Trails System and the City of Three Forks.

Townsend also feels that because Three Forks was founded by the Milwaukee Rail Road and has a rich rail history, it is fitting "our town" will be part of the trail.

Townsend said while the ambitious plan may take several years to complete, his hope is that the Great American Rail Trails reveal will be the spark to light a fire to see the trail completed.

Three Forks Council member Gene Townsend addresses the crowd.

"This would not have happened if it wasn't for the generosity of the Three Forks Community. You folks are made this happen, thank you very much," Townsend said.

According to the RTC, the full route of the Great American Rail-Trail will connect 125+ rail-trails, greenways and other multiuse paths spanning nearly 4,000 miles, connecting communities and bringing untold benefits to all who meet the trail.

"Comprising 12 states and the District of Columbia, the route includes 12 iconic "gateway" trails that make possible this grand vision of a nation connected by trails. These trails have been built through the hard work and ingenuity of the trails community-nonprofit partners, state agencies and volunteers who have rolled up their sleeves to protect and preserve these priceless corridors."


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