Lodgepole Creek Road – A MAJOR SUCCESS STORY !
The status of the northern end of this county road which extends northerly from the town site of Limestone, northwest of Nye, MT, has been an issue for many years. It is now open for public travel. The last two miles which access thousands of acres of the Beartooth Front and an extensive trail system, had been gated off by an adjoining landowner (KC Ranch)/ outfitter Donohoe Outfitting) who attempted to control the road. After extensive negotiations and action by PLWA and FWP, Stillwater County acknowledged that it was a county road.
Meyers Creek Road (a county road), ended at the Forest Service Meyers Creek Cabin, a historic Ranger Station since 1906. Meyers Creek Cabin is located in the western part of the Beartooth Ranger District. From that time until the mid-1960’s the cabin was the headquarters for the Stillwater District. The cabin continues to be used today by the Forest Service as a summer rental cabin.
Lodgepole Creek Road, originally part of Sweet Grass County, extended north from Meyers Creek Road, about 2 miles, ending at the Forest Service boundary, which continued as the Forest Service Lodegepole Creek Trail #22. Stillwater County later removed the name of Lodgepole Creek Road and simply made it a continuation of Meyers Creek Road, north all the way to FS Lodgepole Creek Trail.
By 2009, Lodgepole Creek Road had fallen into disrepair and dropped off the county road system. Culverts were washed out and the road was impassable much of the year. PLWA and other sporting groups, as a coalition with FWP, Stillwater County and the Forest Service, worked to rehabilitate the road and reestablish the access. The County road crews repaired some of the worst spots and FWP provided five cattle guards to replace the gates. Gary Hammond, Region 5 FWP Supervisor, estimated FWP’s contribution at around $9,000.
Contributions from PLWA, Billings Rod and Gun Club, Greater Yellowstone Backcountry Horsemen and FWP were combined to purchase culverts needed at two stream crossings on the road. Without culverts the road becomes deeply rutted when wet. In October 2010, the culverts were installed and FWP provided funds to gravel a portion of the road.
However, the road was washed out in the 2011 flood. After a year hiatus during which funds were generated from FEMA and other sources, work was completed and the road reopened in time for the 2013 hunting season. Stillwater County completed their flood restoration work to the forest boundary and removed the barricade. An FWP official and a PLWA member inspected the road, confirming that the road was open.
The last two water crossings do not have culverts and are steep. A high clearance 4WD is recommended. We owe a big thank you to FWP for their financial support and persistence. We also thank Stillwater County for their hard work and commitment in getting the project accomplished.
Lodgepole Road is an example of how citizen perseverance and governmental inter-agency cooperation can get things done.