Changing the trail helps hikers, businesses and bears

March 16, 2020 11:08 AM

To the editor:

Montanans do not like being told what to do, especially when it comes to managing our land.

Currently, the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), the legislative work of a hiking group from Washington state, cuts directly through a vulnerable ecosystem in the Yaak Valley. This route will actually work against the protection of an endangered group of grizzly bears in the Yaak. Thus the question is posed: Is this short section of the PNT, which has viable re-routing options, worth further endangering this already struggling grizzly population?

Every human deserves the opportunity to experience the outdoors, but bears deserve the opportunity to exist in this world, too. To allow for both of these to happen, we need to re-route this section of the PNT. There has been a detour proposed to the south, one that would provide an equal, or greater experience, to the hiker, benefit local businesses and allow the Yaak Valley grizzly bears an opportunity to recover. The proposed detour offers excellent scenery along the Kootenai River as well as resupply opportunities in Libby and Troy.

If the PNT is re-routed, hikers get to enjoy nature, businesses will likely benefit, and bears get to be bears.

Andy Connelly

Whitefish