Parks Foundation Forging New Model to Help Montana's State Parks
Monday Jun. 25th, 2018
Continued funding challenges in Montana's state parks system have sparked support from the private sector who see parks as a crucial piece of Montana's economy and lifestyle.
The fledgling Montana State Parks Foundation recently completed its largest investment in parks to date, raising over $20,000 for Milltown State Park to install benches and trees that the government otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford.
"Third-party fundraising and advocacy groups are common in the national park system, but we didn't have any group supporting our state park system," said Coby Gierke, Executive Director of Montana State Parks Foundation. "Before the Foundation was created a few years ago, if you loved parks and wanted to give money to state parks, you literally couldn't do it. There was no organization to accept the money and channel it into projects."
Anchor funders for the Milltown project were onX Maps and River Design Group. "onX is passionate about products and projects that help the public access the outdoors”, said Eric Siegfried, founder of Missoula-based onX. "When the Foundation approached us to help develop Milltown it was a no-brainer. A new park on previously inaccessible land? That's right in our wheelhouse."
Despite the possibilities of new funding streams like this one, funding remains very challenging for all of Montana's 55 state parks. "This is just step one in a long process," said Diane Conradi, founding board member of the Foundation.
"Parks need a whole heckuva lot more dollars than this and the Foundation can't do it all. But what we're doing demonstrates that parks are important enough to donors, to businesses to step up and make a difference. Private dollars and the advocacy that come with that are going to be an important piece of the puzzle moving forward."
Visitors can get a taste of the new Milltown State Park during grand opening festivities this Saturday, June 23 beginning at 11 a.m.
To find out more about Montana State Parks Foundation and its statewide impact, visit