The policy is an outcome of the Montana State Parks 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, Charting a New Tomorrow, which the Park Board adopted at the end of 2014. The Strategic Plan directs staff to complete several analyses to align investment in parks with the most significant, relevant, and accessible sites while improving visitor experiences and expectations based on a range of site types and experiences.
The proposed policy presents a systematic direction to guide future funding and staffing decisions. In addition, the policy contains a proposed classification grouping of current parks that reflects the level of investment based on the significance, relevance and accessibility of the site.
“Instead of being all things to all people, the policy presents a differentiated approach that sets priorities and better aligns with the public expectation of what a state park is,” says Chas Van Genderen, Montana State Park Administrator. “The aim is to prioritize investment of available resources and make the priorities transparent to the public.”
From the viewpoint of hikers, MSP wants to:
* Lead by example on nationwide initiatives such as National Public Lands Day and First Day Hikes.To view the proposed Classification and Resource Allocation Policy, click here. Additional information about the Strategic Plan and the classification process can be found online here.
* With dedicated sources in place, the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board will establish a state grant program to supplant federal funding for use in renovation and replacement of facilities and resources in parks, recreation and trails for city, county, state, school districts, Tribal lands and others as a means of supporting communities, our tourism economy and assuring all providers have a stable, supported program.
* Operations and Recreation Program Staff will revise and update the Montana State Trails Plan by 2020 through a collaborative process with partnering agencies and user groups. Improve the availability, usability, and awareness of trails data on public lands around the state.
To comment online, click here.
The public may also send comments by email to ParksClassification@mt.gov.
Or by regular mail to Montana State Parks Classification Policy, c/o Maren Murphy, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.
Public comments will be accepted for 30 days. Comments must be submitted by Friday, November 20th at 5pm.