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Fork to Farm Ride in the Bitterroot

Riders pedal uphill in last year’s “Fork to Farm” group ride held by the Bike Walk Bitterroot.

On Saturday, June 3, Bike Walk Bitterroot will host the Burnt Fork Spring Ride, a 35-mile mixed surface group ride ending in a chili dinner at the Kerslake Ranch in Stevensville.

Bike Walk Bitterroot is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the safety, convenience and accessibility of biking and walking transportation in the Bitterroot Valley. The registration fee for the ride is $25 and includes the ride, chili and salad dinner, beer and a performance by the bluegrass band, Pinegrass, at the Kerslake Ranch. All proceeds will benefit Bike Walk Bitterroot and the Bitter Root Land Trust.

Matthew Rohrbach, the president of Bike Walk Bitterroot, said the group hopes to increase membership, which would allow them to provide more services.

Bike Walk Bitterroot hopes to provide bike safety classes and eventually an off-road trail along the Eastside Highway between Florence and Stevensville that would be funded through a transportation alternatives grant, according to Rohrbach.

Check-in for the ride starts at 9:30 a.m. in Stevensville at the parking lot on the end of Alc Way. The ride begins at 10:30 a.m. and will focus on areas protected through the land conservation efforts of the Bitter Root Land Trust.

The trust, a land conservation group, partnered with Bike Walk Bitterroot for the ride.

The Bitter Root Land Trust has conservation easements on around 1,400 acres along the Burnt Fork of the Bitterroot River that the ride will pass through, according to Grant Carlton, a land conservation specialist at the trust.

“The Burnt Fork of the Bitterroot, just east of Stevensville, is one of the last remaining large-scale strongholds of undeveloped agricultural areas,” Carlton said. “There are really healthy riparian areas that transition into the foothills of the Sapphire Mountains, which makes really good mule deer and elk habitat.”

Over 6,000 acres of land is controlled in conservation easements by various groups around the Bitterroot valley. The Burnt Fork and the Corvallis agricultural corridor are the two primary areas the Bitter Root Land Trust works in.

“It’s really important to the people who live there to maintain its agricultural heritage,” Carlton said. “They initiated the easements, we didn’t cold call them.”

Carlton said the partnership between the land trust and Bike Walk Bitterroot was a natural fit.

“The land trust is here for a number of reasons. Lots of people associate us with agricultural land, but we conserve lots of other land and we’re reaching out to other demographics who might not know us,” Carlton said.

Registration for the Burnt Fork Spring ride can be found at bikewalkbitterroot.org. Bike Walk Bitterroot meetings are every second Thursday of the month at Bitterroot Brewing in Hamilton from noon to 1 p.m. A “Farm to Fork” ride will be held later this summer.

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