Hikers, Horseback Riders Flood Reopened Bass Creek - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Hikers, Horseback Riders Flood Reopened Bass Creek

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BASS CREEK -

After six months of closures, Bitterroot National Forest Service officials reopen the Bass Creek recreation area.

Dog-walkers, horseback riders and hikers flooded the area on Friday, after crews completed a 765-acre tree thinning project last week.

"When I heard it was going to be open, I thought I am going to be here that day, I don't care how cold it is, if it's snowing, it doesn't matter, I'm going to celebrate by seeing it open," said Trish Foster.

Foster said she and her husband have ridden their horses in Bass Creek since they moved to Stevensville 13 years ago.

"This is our place to go and we've been really missing it this summer."

Foster said Bass Creek is her favorite spot to take friends from out of town.

"They get a real feel for what Montana's like, and what the scenery is like, and they love it," she said.

Forest Service officials said in one year alone, 50,000 people choose to hike, bike, or ride horses along these trails.

And Foster was one of those people who had to find elsewhere to recreate in the Bitterroot.

"We complained a lot to the Forest Service people, asked questions," Foster said.

In May, the Bitterroot National Forest Service entered a stewardship contract with Pyramid Mountain Lumber of Seeley Lake.

The contract allowed the forest service to reduce pine beetle spread in Bass Creek, while Pyramid logged nearly four million board feet of timber.

"It looks good, the contractor that was doing the work did an excellent job, and the trails are back in good shape," said Stevensville District Ranger Dan Ritter.

Ritter said crews still need to burn about 20 slash piles this fall, and they'll complete skid trail work on Monday.

"People were very patient and cooperative, and we basically tried to help them to find other places to recreate," he said.

Foster said she's just glad to be back in the saddle, riding through Bass Creek.

"You can see a lot of the valley, it's very scenic," she said.

Forest Service officials said crews hauled 1,100 truck loads of timber from the area during the six-month project.

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