twin bridges trailhead (Spencer) COnversation: Day 1

  We will visit a very popular free-ride mountain bike park and hear from:

Becky Briber


 Becky is the director of Flathead Area Mountain Bikers with a past career as a lawyer and a ski patroller. Becky is dedicated to maintaining and promoting biking access to Flathead Valley trails and to making mountain biking accessible to local youth. 

pete costain


  Pete Costain, founder of Terraflow Trails with his wife Linda, is based out of the Montana mountain towns of Whitefish and Big Sky. Pete was an early advocate for mountain biking on Spencer Mountain and continues to build gravel hiking paths, cross country ski trails, and multi-use community trail networks. 

Andy Feury


Andy Feury is a former Mayor of Whitefish and current City Councilor with a deep background in growing and shaping the Whitefish Trail from its inception in 2002 to the present.  

angela jacobs


Angela Jacobs is the City Attorney for the City of Whitefish. After graduating from the University of Montana in 2001, she clerked for Judge James Browning on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, practiced for 13 years in a private firm representing various municipalities, and joined the City of Whitefish in 2015. 

Greg poncin


 Greg is a Montana native and UM Forestry graduate who has spent the last 32 years working for the MT DNRC. He is currently the NW Area Manager and lives and recreates in the greater Flathead Area. 

Whitefish Lake state Park conversation: Day 1

 At one of the most popular campground parks in Northwest Montana—Whitefish Lake State Park, we'll hear from: 

Dave Bennetts


 Dave Bennetts has worked for MT State Parks since 2006 as a Park Ranger on Flathead Lake, and currently as the Park Manager for Les Mason, Logan, Thompson Falls and Whitefish Lake State Parks. He also manages the Thompson Chain of Lakes recreational area. Dave graduated from Oregon State University in 1993 with a B.S. in Forest Recreation Resource Management. Dave is originally from Butte, MT 

Brent Campbell


 As the CEO of WGM Group, Mr. Campbell has more than 30 years of experience in business leadership, project management, engineering, community planning, and infrastructure finance. He currently serves on several economic development boards and has a passion for recreation infrastructure planning and funding mechanisms for parks and trails. 

Lori Curtis


 Lori Curtis is the Science and Education Director for the Whitefish Lake Institute where she is responsible for aquatic and watershed research and reporting, science and education program direction, and management of the Living Wetlands Interpretive Nature Trail. Lori has a M.S. in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College, and has been involved in AIS programming since 2013. 

Coby Gierke


Shaped by the wide open spaces near Miles City and Glendive, Coby brings years of innovative public lands conservation experience gained through work with the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Montana Conservation Corps, and several conservation non-profit organizations to his role with the Montana State Parks Foundation. 

Dan Hansen


 Dan is a strong advocate for investment in recreation infrastruction and increased access to public lands, having witnessed firsthand the value it can bring to an area while working for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Glacier Park, Inc., Wheelie Creative, and in his current position as the marketing and sales manager at Explore Whitefish. In his free time, he can be found mountain biking, skiing or working with Flathead Area Mountain Bikers to preserve and advance mountain biking activities in the Flathead Valley where he has served on the board for six years. 

reservoir trailhead conversation: Day 1

 From the Whitefish Trail Reservoir Road trailhead, we will  visit a unique frontcountry site which exemplifies resilient private/private partnerships and hear from:

maria butts


Maria is the Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for the City of Whitefish.  She oversees the budgeting, maintenance and operations of 220 acres of parkland and properties, an 11 month ice rink, a City beach, and the Whitefish Trail, an extensive trail system covering over 3,000 acres licensed through DNRC, including a fishing access leased by FWP. 

Sawyer Connelly


  Sawyer Connelly is a volunteer for the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Connelly came West for college and quickly fell in love with the indomitable Western landscapes. He enjoys exploring public lands and waters with his dogs and partner, Erika. 

greg gunderson


   Greg Gunderson is the founder and president of Forestoration, a multi-disciplinary firm that specializes in planning, design, and construction management of trails and outdoor recreation facilities. Forestoration has been the lead designer of the 45-mile whitefish Trail network. Greg is passionate about the benefits of community trail systems, particularly how trails foster connections between people and the natural environments that surround our homes and communities. 

Paul mckenzie


  As the Lands & Resource Manager for F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co., Paul is tasked with oversight of three professional foresters and is responsible for all aspects of land management on the company’s 39,000 acre tree farm as well as sourcing the fiber for their sawmill and co-generation facility.  Paul has practiced forestry in the public and private sectors, and is an active participant in a variety of collaborative efforts. As Paul puts it, “the trees are the easy part.”

kris tempel


Kris is a Habitat Conservation Biologist for Motnana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.  She has spent the last decade conserving fish and wildlife habitat. recreation access and working landscapes in northwestern Montana.

Heidi Van Everen


 Heidi has a long history of developing (and running) trails and advocating for conservation. Under Heidi's leadership, Whitefish Legacy Partners has proven to be a leader in community-based conservation and has successfully launched the Whitefish Trail project. Since 2011, Heidi has been the Executive Director, growing the organization, and developing strong public-private partnerships to support conservation, recreation, and community stewardship throughout the Flathead Valley. 

zach zipfel


 Zach Zipfel has been with FWP since 2012. Prior to joining FWP, he was an assistant attorney general under then Attorney General Steve Bullock. After graduating from UM Law School in 2006, he clerked for Justice John Warner on the Montana Supreme Court. Before going to law school he was a ranger with the National Park Service at Denali National Park, Alaska, and the Grand Canyon.    

Keynote speaker Antonia malchik: Day 1


why FrontCountry nature access is key to health for all

Antonia will share her thoughtful research about why frontcountry access to nature is more important than ever to personal and community well-being. 

A fifth-generation Montanan, Antonia Malchik writes about nature, travel, and science for a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, Orion, and High Country News. Her nonfiction book A Walking Life was published in May.

frontcountry roundup: Day 2

Overview of ongoing research into how communities access nature every day, shared challenges and proposed solutions to improving quality recreation amenities close to home.  The results will be distilled into a set of tools, resources and services.

diane conradi


  Diane is an attorney at Conradi Law Office and founder of the Montana Access Project.  A graduate of University of Oregon School of Law, she has dedicated her career to conservation, frontcountry access to nature, social justice and impactful entrepreneurship. 

margosia jadkowski


Margosia Jadkowski is the Program Director at Whitefish Legacy Partners. Originally from Maine, she studied Geology at Colby College, has a Master's Degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University, and has worked recreation and conservation projects throughout the US, Spain, and Thailand. 

public and private recreation investment: Day 2

Rachel VandeVoort, Director of the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation, will share recently released data on the business of outdoor recreation and will lead the discussion on the latest public funding sources for recreation infrastructure and insight into philanthropic investment in smaller communities.  

rachel vandevoort


Rachel VandeVoort, as Director of Montana's Office of Outdoor Recreation, increases the visibility and economic activity of Montana’s outdoor recreation and related goods and services, and firmly establishes that Montana’s clean air, clean water and access to public lands and rivers are an economic driver that attracts businesses to relocate to the state.

Lad barney


 Lad Barney is a Business Programs Specialist at USDA Rural Development – Kalispell office.  Lad has also served as Area Director for RD Missoula & Kalispell offices since August 2008. He was the Director of the Small Business Development Center at the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce for five years and also served as Operations Manager and Lead Sales Consultant for two technology solution providers. 

Cathy Cooney


Cathy Cooney is the Director of Donor Services at the Montana Community Foundation.  She has worked in the community foundation sector for the past 22 years both in southern California and in Montana.

Pat Doyle



Pat Doyle is the Marketing and Communications Manager with Montana State Parks. Pat has been involved with tourism and the outdoor recreation economy in Montana for more than ten years. He lives in Helena with his wife and two young children enjoying the world class recreation opportunities right out their back door. 

Michelle McNamee


  Michelle McNamee is the Recreational Trails Program Manager at Montana State Parks. She began her career working for the Student Conservation Association, leading high school trail crews throughout the country. Since then, she has worked in marketing and communications and emergency management. She grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan but took many vacations to Montana to visit her extended family in Helena. 

Bob vosen


Bob is the Missoula District Administrator of the Montana Department of Transportation. 

Bob Vosen has been with the Montana Department of Transportation for over 23 years, and is currently the Missoula District Administrator.  A fifth generation Montanan from Kremlin, Bob's family enjoys all of the great outdoor activities that Montana and the Flathead have to offer, from fishing, camping, hiking and boating in the summer to hunting in the fall and skiing and ice fishing in the winter.

matt parsons


Matt is the Associate Director of GVT with over 15 years experience in the outdoor recreation industry and 6 years in the fundraising trenches, raising money for Montana State University and more recently for GVLT. He holds degrees in Recreation and Park Management and English from Penn State and Montana State respectively. This winter Matt will be transitioning from Associate Director to Trails Program Director at GVLT. 

breakout session: day 2

Groups will learn and share experiences in the areas of government partnerships, operations and maintenance, design and construction, and community engagement/volunteers.

Joe alexander


 Joe Alexander is the Northern Region Director for Recreation, Lands, Minerals, Heritage and Wilderness Programs. He is a 26 year veteran of the US Forest Service and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Forestry. Joe is passionate about the outdoors, all types of outdoor recreation, and the industry that supports it. 

michele cushman


Michele is the Manager of the Tourism Grant Program under the Department of Commerce. The Tourism Grant Program is funded by the 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax. The Tourism Grant Program awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana's economy through the development and enhancement of the State's tourism and recreation industry. Funds are awarded annually to projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation. 

Kevin Eskelin


Kevin has worked with the BC Forest Service Recreation Branch for 13 years, as a Recreation Officer in northern BC and Regional Manager for southeastern BC. We engage public groups in stewardship partnerships undertaking management and maintenance of Recreation Sites and keeping the focus on capacity building and enabling visions in rural communities of BC. His background is in forest management, informati systems and analysis, and ecological restoration. . 

Amanda Larrinaga


 At Firebrand Creative, Amanda brings over 12 years of experience building community and launching boots-on-the-ground front country recreation and conservation marketing efforts across the western U.S.  Her work has been featured in places like Forbes and Reuters, as well as locally with nonprofits like the Montana State Parks Foundation and RecCon Montana. 

Katie stevens


Katie is the District Manager for BLM in Western Montana, including Dillon, Missoula, and Butte BLM Field Offices.  Katie has extensive experience with community based recreation partnerships, having worked with the BLM in Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado.

best practices for limiting public recreation liability CLE: Day 2

Examination of the legal framework for public recreation use liability in Montana and innovative techniques to minimize liability exposure for landowners.