New Trail Easy For Senator, Tough For Reporter - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

New Trail Easy For Senator, Tough For Reporter

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COLUMBIA FALLS -

Senator Baucus was out with a trail restoration crew in the North Fork of Flathead today for his ninety-sixth workday.

Switchbacks, steep drop offs, and seeing the Senator with a Pulaski--it was a long mile up Glacier View Trail, especially carrying some heavy camera equipment and wearing khakis and loafers.

My hike pales in comparison to Carolan Coughlin's, a staff member with the Montana Conservation Corps, who is helping revive the fifteen miles of trail after a fire in 2001.

"The past two and a half years we've been re-digging the tread, putting in nice turns, and trying to bring this trail back to life," said Carolan.

She is helping to lead a group of unpaid, AmeriCorp volunteers.

"I think, you know, that people come out for many different reasons. One is a passion for the public lands--passion to keep access to those lands for ourselves and kind of everybody around," said Carolan.

It was this passion for public land access that had Senator Baucus out on the trail today using some elbow grease to help beautify an area whose watershed he has worked for many years to protect.

"What drives all of us, I think, is beauty, the naturalness of our state, connecting with the land, the water, the air. Not only for ourselves, but for our kids, our grandkids, and that's a powerful force," he posited.

After so many eight-hour workdays in the sun, and camping near the trail head each night, the Conservation Corps hopes to open the trail to the public this weekend.

Though my preview of the trail was rough, I have to agree with Carolan.

"To be honest, getting out here, digging, getting to be outside all day long is pretty fun," said Carolan with a laugh.

Senator Baucus's bill, the North fork Watershed Protection Act, just gained the support of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He hopes to sign the bill into law before his term ends in 2015.

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