Trail Advocacy

This award is given in recognition of successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.


Montana: Gene Townsend

Gene serves as the Mayor and Trails Coordinator for the City of Three Forks, Montana.

Gene works closely with various community organizations, businesses and government entities to help expand public non-motorized trails and pathways in the area. Over the past twelve years, Gene has spearheaded the growth and improvement of the Three Forks and Headwaters Trail Systems that link urban trails to outlying areas, including Missouri River Headwaters State Park, Jefferson River, and neighboring communities.

By building broad-based support for community trails and an extensive network of partnerships through the public, private and non-profit sectors, the community of Three Forks has been able to secure over $215,000 through the Recreational Trails Program just in the last 11 years. Gene continues to consider all user groups and ensures that users of all ages and abilities, regardless of disability, will be served by the extensive trail system. Last year, the trail system reached approximately 20 miles thanks in large part to the work and vision of Gene Townsend.

His duties and accomplishments include:

  • Helped write the Gallatin County Trails Plan and the City of Three Forks Trails Plan
  • Has written many successful grants to fund miles of new trails and related trail maintenance and infrastructure improvement projects
  • Consistently encourages innovative partnerships that assist with implementation of trails projects
  • Instrumental in providing 35 dog sanitation stations and 12 information kiosks on the trails systems
  • Worked with Lewis and Clark Trail Foundation Chapter in Bozeman, Montana to gather interpretive information for the Drouillard Trail; information includes the story of George Drouillard, who traveled with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • Created a community “Adopt-A- Mound” landscaping program; the program continues to provide necessary matching funds for grant programs while families landscape the mounds with flowers, trees, shrubs, rocks and seasonal displays to increase the aesthetic value of the trail system
  • Manages an Adopt-A-Trail maintenance program with 12 partnering groups
  • Worked with student groups on stream habitat restoration, trail maintenance, weed control, and environmental education
  • Secured donations from Fish, Wildlife and Parks for interpretive signs that describe the local flora and fauna, trail etiquette, and noxious weed informational action steps
  • Initiated partnership with local Boy Scout troop to produce three Eagle Scout projects which includes tree planting and informational kiosks and benches along trails
  • Marshaled efforts to provide paved bike/ped paths connecting city sidewalks that are available at a variety of access sites throughout the trail system; the trails include three disability access restrooms along the trail system and a disabled fishing access area that also allows people to enjoy bird and wildlife viewing
  • Presenter at several Montana state trails conferences
  • Maintains a full-time job along with his position as Mayor of Three Forks.

Gene’s vision and perseverance ignites the City of Three Forks and Gallatin County to expand an already great trail system. He certainly deserves national recognition for his outstanding efforts to help build healthier communities by building public trails for all.

883 views • posted 01/16/2018