Visitors to River’s Edge Trail are being treated to some beautiful new interpretive panels focusing on the life and history along the Great Falls stretch of the Missouri River.
Created and funded by the Cascade Conservation District (CCD) and the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council (MRCDC), the nine 24” x 36” panels are located at Broadwater Bay, along the trail in West Bank Park, on the Weissman Trail Bridge and at the King Bridge above Black Eagle Falls.
Panels provide photos and information on local Water Birds and Land Birds, the 1908 and 1964 floods, Riparian Areas, the Great Northern Railway that became a key segment of River’s Edge Trail and identification of noxious weeds along the trail. Information on the work of the Cascade Conservation District and Missouri River Conservation Districts Council is also presented. Panels on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invaders were also created for Broadwater Bay, West Bank Park non-motorized boat launch and Sun River Portage.
“These panels add a new dimension to the trail experience, helping folks further understand and respect the river corridor” said Doug Wicks with non-profit Recreational Trails, Inc. that works with the Parks & Recreation Department to develop and maintain the trail. “We see young and old perusing these panels and enjoy seeing families huddled around them.”
The Cascade Conservation District is a subdivision of state government that works locally to fulfill the state’s policy to conserve soil and water located within Cascade County. CCD also administers Montana’s Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act, also known as the 310 Law. All of the Great Falls area except the original Townsite is within the CCD.
The interpretive sign project for the trail has been spearheaded by CCD Urban Supervisor and MRCDC Council Member, John Chase, who worked with dozens of individuals and agencies to develop consensus on content and presentation. “We want to get our message out there”, said Tenlee Atchison, CCD Administrator. “These panels remind the public that we are actively working to improve the river corridor and engage them in that effort.”
The MRCDC is comprised of CCD and the other 14 CDs that border the Missouri River in Montana. The Council exists to provide leadership, assistance, and guidance to the CDs and to represent natural resources and environmental interests on the Missouri River and associated uplands. Rachel Frost, Coordinator for MRCDC, says, “These panels are a great way to remind the public that what happens in the Missouri River here in Great Falls affects all the downstream users in Montana and beyond. Local conservation and good management practices expand to benefit everyone on the River.”