Quarantine E-Views
Updates from PPLT: Take a Hike, Coronavirus!
March 20, 2020 View as Webpage

This Monday morning when Prickly Pear Land Trust staff sat down to our first video conference call, it dawned on us just how real the pandemic has become, even in our little corner of Montana. It was also apparent to a handful of us, just how little anything else was being discussed. West-central Montana is used to not being in the spotlight—but jeez—no one is even talking about the weather!

We decided that we wanted to share something to help bring this community together, even if we can’t all be together. This is our special edition e-newsletter designed not to shy away from the crisis and our real challenges, but to bring some news, a bit of levity, and activities from home.

Still, in spite of the isolation and distancing that the COVID-19 virus requires, PPLT takes solace in the fact that as a community rooted in our place, we are all in this together. One thing PPLT will do, is continue connecting people to the land and each other at a time when we need those connections most. Our trails and open spaces are places of solace, happiness, and connection especially during stressful times.

We are taking every measure to assure our future ability to care for the connections, trails, and open spaces that we all hold so dear. We know that like the land, our community is resilient and strong, and like the land, PPLT and our community will be here after this challenge. We take comfort in the love and concern we share for each other, and we know these connections will see us through this time.  
We appreciate your support for the work and people of Prickly Pear Land Trust and for the future of Helena and our open lands. We wish you all good health in the months to come.

*PPLT is lucky to have such a wide and interactive readership in our community, but if there is anything within the following articles that you find will be useful, or of interest to others in our community, please do feel free to forward it on.

(Social) Distance Running: Don’t Fence Me In Update
As the race falls within the CDC's "no event" timeframe we are exploring fun alternatives. This is a huge fundraiser for Prickly Pear Land Trust—projects like the Mount Ascension and Mount Helena/LeGrande additions, our trail maintenance, and Tenmile Creek Park all depend on funds from the race. We hope you'll be patient while we develop our back-up plan. Details coming soon!
Take a Hike, Coronavirus! A Healthy “Out”-ernative
Over the past couple of weeks as the virus whittled down other states, I heard the quip, “luckily, social distance is in your blood as a Montanan.” A friend also cleverly suggested that Montana finally made it to the March Madness “Final Four.” While the latter may be, the truth is that we are just as social as any group, and we have to operate under the assumption that there is transmission in our community.

The decisions we make will affect our families, neighbors and can lessen or worsen the overall impact of this outbreak. While many of us may not be concerned about our own long-term well-being, we can still be vectors of the spread and put others at risk. So, how can we be responsible, but not go stir crazy? You guessed it, take a hike, get on your bike or stand in the sun with it shining on your face!

Between Helena’s South Hills trail system , the BLM’s Scratchgravel Hills, and Tenmile Creek Park , there is plenty of room for a host of trail users who don’t want to get too close. And for those hyper-vigilant folks, why not try a new trailhead and some of our more distant trails?

Additional Trail Tips:
  • Remember to keep a distance of six feet from others, even outside. A little solitude and reflection isn’t bad either - feel free to go it alone out there.
  • While normally we encourage you to stay on the trail - stepping six feet off trail to allow others to pass by is perfectly acceptable.
  • Please do stay home if you are sick, or are beginning to show signs of being sick, and seek the appropriate medical advice/help. We’re asking this for your health as well as others.
  • Going outside may still not be advisable for vulnerable populations. Please follow CDC guidelines should you have any questions.
Open Space is a Safe Place — “Discovering” Local Hikes
As the Coronavirus and “social distancing” become a regular part of our lives over the next few weeks to months, the PPLT Team wanted to put together a quick list of new “favorite spots” for our readers and their families to get out and about in a safer way than large gatherings.

Always be prepared for variable conditions in Montana’s spring time. Bring appropriate footwear, plenty of water, extra layers, and be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when to expect a call. Some trail reports can be found here .

  • Trout Creek Canyon
  • Regulating Reservoir
  • Lincoln Sculpture Garden
  • Sunderland Trail outside Montana City
  • Copper City Trails
  • The Usual Suspects
  • South Hills - Try Dump Gulch, Head to Wakina Meadow, Eddye McClure
  • Tenmile Upper Loop
  • Scratchgravel Hills
Homeschool Field Biology for Kids
Explore the Great Outdoors! …. Indoors?
As the computer monitor has suddenly replaced the whiteboard for many local Helena students, Prickly Pear Land Trust is here to help you and your squirrely kids continue to engage in learning environmental education. The Prickly Pear Education Program has 8 available lesson plans and other educational material available on our website.

Browse the resources and bring 'em with you and your kids as you safely explore Helena’s great outdoors. Looking to stay inside? Each of the lesson plans has been developed with in- home education components. Peruse and please partake in any particular plan that pleases you. 

In addition to at-home lessons, PPLT’s Education Program will keep its course and continue to educate high school students in the virtual classroom. Our Big Sky Watershed Corps member and Education Program coordinator, Blake Sexton, plans on working with area teachers to provide virtual lessons to students as they learn remotely. There is no escaping quality environmental education. Happy learning, happy trails!
A Good Time to Dig Deep—Good Listens and Reads 
March in Montana is typically a time where we discuss the mud, poo on the trails, and all the things we will accomplish in the upcoming summer months. With a little more at-home time on our hands this year, what better to do than catch up on all the things taking place in our neck of the woods, mountains, and plains, or environmental opportunities that take place here and around the world. Here are some wild and interesting picks from PPLT friends for you:

  • Montana Outdoors’ Top 100 List—Whether you’ve spent a thousand nights under the starry Big Sky, or you’re the freshest wildflower in the state, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park’s list of the best will give you something to learn from, dream about, and create your own wishlist for this year!

  • Evel Knievel and the Superfund—NPR’s 40 minute podcast, “Richest Hill on Earth” Episode 5 dives into the history, politics and culture of Butte during the Superfund designation. With PPLT’s work and future in the community of East Helena, it is a great time to learn about our beloved sister city.

  • Montana Field Notes for FamiliesField Notes has 100s of quick radio clips and videos online. Written by naturalists, students, and listeners these stories cover the puzzle-tree bark, eagle talons, woolly aphids, and giant puffballs of Western, Central and Southwestern Montana.

  • Wildlife Corridors Story Map—For visual learners, map lovers, and those who love to get a little technical, this story map shows how important PPLT's service area is in connecting important wildlife populations.

  • Physiology and Long Distance Running—Warning, much of this RadioLab podcast is about butts, how humans rely on them, and how they allow humans to travel long distances on foot.

  • There’s a Hummus Among Us—Changing diets in the U.S. are causing an agricultural boom in Montana among “pulse crop” (peas, lentils, and chick peas) producers. This article covers why we’re now the #1 producer!
PPLT closed our offices as of Monday, March 16th. All staff are working remotely and can be reached through the contact information on our website
Prickly Pear Land Trust | [email protected] | pricklypearlt.org