Montana State Parks Holds Statewide Listening Sessions On Outdoor Recreation

Mar 13, 2019

A discussion table at the Montana State Parks listening event in Billings, communications manager Pat Doyle (far left) and Christine Whitlatch (third from left)
Credit Kayla Desroches / YPR

Montana State Parks is updating its outdoor recreation plan, which guides which city and county projects will receive federal funding over the next five years.

Every five years, Montana State Parks updates the Montana Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, or SCORP, which helps guide outdoor management.

SCORP also guides the selection process for which projects should receive grants from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, which President Donald Trump permanently reauthorized Tuesday.

Part of the drafting process involves consulting with members of the outdoor industry.

Montana State Parks communications manager Pat Doyle said that’s what they’re doing right now in Kalispell, Billings, and Butte.

“These are three areas in the state that are incredibly different from each other based on recreation potential, public lands, socioeconomically, the whole thing, so it’s a really interesting snapshot of how these three areas are completely different and how their needs could be different,” said Doyle. “So, those are the kind of things that we could take into this upcoming score plan and put some needs in there that address specific areas or a statewide thing as a whole.”

About 50 people attended the listening session in Billings Tuesday. They said Montana is full of driving tourism and the state’s scenic routes attract people from inside and outside Montana.

Christine Whitlatch with the Montana Outdoor Heritage Project talked about enabling people to walk trails for physical and mental health.

“There is a huge desire in our populations to increase access for people of all kind of mobility and capacity and age groups, and so how do we manage that?” said Whitlach.

Pat Doyle with State Parks said SCORP will be finalized by the end of 2019.

The next and final listening session is today in Butte.