Flower Creek mountain bike trail OK’d

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A plan to build an extensive trail system down the eastern front of the Cabinet Mountains south of Libby is moving ahead.

An environmental assessment issued last week gave the go-ahead for construction of a segment of mixed-use trail south of Libby in the Flower Creek area. Lincoln County in partnership with Libby Outdoor Recreation Association had petitioned the DNRC to conduct the assessment.

“They gave us the release to finalize trail design,” said Tony Petrusha with Libby Outdoor Recreation Association.

The new trail segment will be built to International Mountain Biking Association standards, and operated as a mixed-use, non-motorized trail.

The project will include 8 miles of new single-track trail and use of 2.5 miles of existing roads. An 80-foot pedestrian bridge is proposed to cross Flower Creek downstream from the lower reservoir, allowing connection with the historic Norgard trail, which transitions to the Flower Creek Trails Parking Area.

The trailhead and parking for this trail section will be accessed from the Flower Creek Cross Country Ski area.

According to Petrusha, the EA requires the trail to stay 100 feet from private property to the north of the trails.

The next step is to finalize design.

“Now we can get serious,” Petrusha said. “We’ve been working on this a long time.”

He expected trail construction would begin sometime next spring.

“A lot of volunteer labor will be used to do the trail work as well as maintenance,” he added.

The Flower Creek section of trail is part of a larger vision of building more than 30 miles of trail following historic mining roads.

The full trail will extend to the Flower Creek Trails and move south along the north east flank of the Cabinet Range. This trail network will incorporate the proposed mountain bike course, a Nordic ski area, connections with the historical Snowshoe Mine area and connection to multiple loops of existing trails.

In parallel with this effort LORA is working with the Kootenai National Forest to implement the updated Sheldon Mountain Non-motorized Recreation Plan and consideration of recreational opportunities in the Environmental Analysis for the Ripley Project to include a trail connection to the City of Libby.

For more information on LORA or the proposed project, write or call Tony Petrusha at tpetrusha@yahoo.com (406)422-3528.

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