The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation was founded in 1996 when the U.S. Forest Service and a group of concerned citizens came together to address the rapid loss of trails in The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. By the mid '90s only 1,900 of the original 2,500 miles of trails in The Bob remained, and Forest Service budgets had been cut by 40%.
The Foundation was granted tax-exempt status and in 1996 and began its first summer of volunteer projects in 1997. That year the Foundation’s goal was to provide 1000 volunteer service days but ended the summer logging 2,600 service days (a service day is one day of work by one volunteer). The Foundation has repeated this effort each summer for almost 25 years and BMWF volunteers have cleared and maintained well over 5,000 miles of trail! Our crews also work to restore the natural ecosystem by fighting invasive weeds, preventing erosion and reducing user impacts on the landscape.
Through these unique hands-on experiences in The Bob, The Foundation works to create the next generation of conservation leaders. There’s no more intimate way to explore the Wilderness than by getting your hands dirty helping to build and maintain its trails. All of our crews learn Leave No Trace principles and skills to become better backcountry users, and take ownership of their public lands through active stewardship. Our hope is that they take their memories from the backcountry back home to become future wilderness advocates, to keep these wild places protected for generations to come.
BMWF works on the homelands of the Amskapi Piikani (the Blackfeet Nation of Montana), the Niitsítapi (the Blackfoot Confederacy), the Séliš (Salish), Ql̓ispé (Pend d’Oreille or Kalispel), and Ktunaxa (Kootenai) tribes.