Missoula County Parks and Trails Honored Clayton Burtsfield with Steward Award

Left to right: Chris Hale (Parks and Trails Advisory Board chair), Clayton Burtsfield, Commissioner Dave Strohmaier

The Missoula County Parks and Trails Advisory Board named a longtime steward of the American Legion baseball complex and Big Sky Park as the 2021 Parks and Trails Steward.   

Board members and Commissioner Dave Strohmaier presented the award to Clayton Burtsfield on May 26, at Dale Dahlgren’s Baseball Complex, where he has dedicated countless hours over nearly four decades.

Burtsfield’s dedication to the complex began in 1983 when he, along with a group of legion baseball supporters, launched planning efforts for what is now the American Legion Baseball facility. He retains meeting notes from those early efforts and has continuously served the effort to build, improve and maintain that facility. 

“Clayton stands as an exemplary role model for many,” Parks and Trails Advisory Board member Bill Dahlgren said. “He was the official ‘note taker’ at the earliest meetings to move the Legion Baseball complex to its current location at Big Sky Park. He has done so much to advance the dreams of a first-rate baseball complex. Last summer the Mavs even dedicated their new indoor practice building as ‘The Clayton Burtsfield Warehouse.’ Now he’s receiving this added recognition, both well-deserved. We’re all lucky to have community volunteers like Clayton working to make Missoula a better place.” 

During the last four decades, Burtsfield has served in multiple volunteer roles to advocate for and advance the facility: organizing committee secretary, shovel-in-hand facility builder (from Day One), American Legion Post No. 27 baseball committee member, more than 25 years as the Northwest Regional American Legion A Baseball Tournament chair, Missoula Mavericks’ Big Sky Park Stewardship Committee representative, groundskeeper at the legion baseball facility and likely many roles not listed. 

A lease agreement was drawn up between the American Legion and Missoula County in 1984, at which time construction of the current facility began. The first legion baseball game was played at the site in June 1987. Big Sky Park’s playing facility is recognized as one of the finest in the Northwest. The complex was developed with private funds and is worth approximately $1.5 million. 

Big Sky Park spans 154-acres in the Target Range neighborhood, making it Missoula County’s largest park. Its amenities include baseball/softball fields, a community garden, competition-level equestrian facilities, natural surface trails and bird habitat. It is a cherished community resource that draws users from the entire Missoula Valley.  

A list of Steward Award recipients (2003 to 2020) is available on the Parks, Trails and Open Lands website.

Missoula County Seeking Nominations for Land Stewardship Award

Missoula County Community and Planning Services is now accepting nominations for the annual Land Stewardship Award. The award recognizes landowners and residents who are taking stewardship of land and water seriously and embarking on projects and practices that make a difference for land, water, forests, wildlife and communities.  

Community members and organizations are invited to nominate landowners and residents who are restoring, protecting or enhancing land and natural resources to ensure natural systems are maintained and strengthened. The nomination form is due Friday, April 30, and is available on the CAPS Open Lands website at http://missoula.co/stewardshipaward.  

The award program, through the leadership of the county’s Open Lands Citizens Advisory Committee, recognizes the critical role private landowners and residents play in resource conservation through their stewardship activities.  

Missoula County has presented the award annually since 2011 to show appreciation to tireless, voluntary stewards for the work they do to protect our lands. The county uses the recipients’ successes and challenges to highlight tools and programs landowners and residents can take advantage of to restore, enhance and protect land and water resources.  

The award has recognized previous recipients for their innovative and cooperative land management of forests, ranches and properties throughout the county. An interactive map highlighting past recipients is online at http://missoula.co/stewardshipmap.  

The Community and Planning Services Open Lands Program focuses on connecting communities, private landowners, local organizations and agencies with resources and opportunities to conserve the diverse mix of forests, grass lands, agricultural lands and water resources throughout Missoula County. More information about the Open Lands Program is online at http://missoula.co/openlandsprogram.

Missoula County Awards $46,000 in Grants to Community Centers and Parks

Residents throughout Missoula County will soon enjoy additional community center and outdoor recreation opportunities thanks to $46,000 in matching grants offered by Missoula County’s Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program

Grant funding requests represent the importance of community activities and the priority of shared resources throughout Missoula County. The Seeley Lake Lions Club, stewards of Missoula County’s Clearwater Park that has amenities including a skating pond, walking path and a picnic pavilion, will receive $16,988 to put in a playground, new benches, picnic tables, plantings and other improvements. 

The Potomac-Greenough Community Center will receive $10,365 to purchase a pre-K play structure for their playground. The remainder of the funds will be used for padding in the Potomac Greenough Community center gym, which is the primary recreation complex for the community.  

In Lolo, Travelers’ Rest State Park will receive $8,500 to construct an accessible spur trail, which will link the Bitterroot Trail to the park grounds and will include permanent art installations along the trail.  

Five other grants, which range from $1,300 to $2,700, will help fund maintenance projects to improve parks, trails and recreation areas through the Parks and Trails Matching Grants Program. They will help partner organizations fund the following projects in 2021:   

  • $1,369 to remove barbed-wire fencing and install new perimeter fencing at the Nine Mile Community Center (Nine Mile Community Center). 
  • $1,814 to help replace the roof on the picnic pavilion at the West Riverside Community Park (Friends of Two Rivers). 
  • $1,833 to help remove the volleyball court area and replace it with turf at Kelsey Park in Miller Creek (Upper Linda Vista HOA).  
  • $2,500 for site improvements, memorial plaques, a sheltered kiosk and a protective display at the Seeley Lake Veterans Memorial (Veterans and Families of Seeley Lake). 
  • $2,700 to expand and enhance the Seeley Lake Community Skating Rink by purchasing lights, lumber and a fire hose (Seeley Lake ROCKS).  

“While our grant partners have certainly felt impacts from COVID-19, we are encouraged by the large amount of applications received this year,” Parks and Trails Coordinator John Stegmaier said. “All signs point to communities across the county recognizing the importance of their recreation facilities and a willingness to spearhead improvement projects.”  

The Parks and Trails Matching Grant Program leverages partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups to maintain county parks and other public recreation areas. In these partnerships, the Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program provides planning assistance and funding, while the partner organization matches those funds through a combination of project expenses, in-kind donations and volunteer service hours.