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Park dedication: Riverfront land in Hamilton to be named in honor of Steve Powell

Bitter Root Land Trust executive director Gavin Ricklefs hopes people will join him and others to dedicate the Steve Powell Park on Wednesday evening. The new walking bridge on park's north side is now open to the public.

A celebration of a community pulling together for the common good will happen Wednesday along the banks of the Bitterroot River.

At 6:30 p.m., officials from the city of Hamilton will join members of the Bitter Root Land Trust to officially dedicate its newest park to the community.

The 22-acre Steve Powell Park is located just a couple hundred yards north of the Hamilton’s Main Street Bridge.

It’s named to honor the man who founded the land trust years ago.

“This really all started with him,” said Bitter Root Land Trust executive director Gavin Ricklefs on a recent walk through the quiet natural area that will bear Powell’s name. “He began the initial conversations with the Taber family years ago about this piece of property. It’s hard to imagine that we would be at this point without him.”

But it didn’t stop with him.

The list of all those who helped along the way is long.

“We want to honor everybody who made this possible,” Ricklefs said. “We want to honor the Taber family for their vision in making this a reality. We want to honor Steve Powell for the legacy he left us. And we want to honor everyone who came together to make it happen. It’s a very long list.”

The Hamilton-based land trust took a leap of faith when it decided to move forward to purchase the property from the Taber family with the intention of preserving it for future generations.

That faith was placed directly with the community and several important partners to raise $315,000 needed to purchase the land and meet a variety of other expenses. The money came from private donations and several grants.

Last October, the land trust turned ownership over the city of Hamilton.

“The city has been a great partner,” Ricklefs said. “They have been good to work with through the entire process.”

Hamilton Mayor Jerry Steele said the park has already been annexed into the city.

“It’s going to be a nice addition to our park system,” Steele said. “I envision that it will stay as natural as we can keep it. It’s going to be a place where people can go for a walk and enjoy nature. I don’t think we’ll put any tables there.”

Ricklefs said the trust plans to remain an active partner and will assist the city in any way possible in future management of the site.

Construction of a new $70,000 walking bridge over the Corvallis Canal was recently completed on the north end of the property. That project was paid for through donations from local foundations and individuals.

The bridge will help people access the property from the north without a need to cross the Corvallis Canal headgate. Ricklefs said the trust plans to add onto a fence around the head gate in order to keep that area secure.

Future plans also call for rerouting a trail away from the head gate and possibly adding interpretive signs some day in the future. There’s also some replanting work that needs to occur near the bridge construction site.

On Wednesday, people will have an opportunity to take a tour between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. of the new park. The dedication ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m.

“It should be a great opportunity for the public to come out and see their new park,” Ricklefs said.

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

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Associate Editor

Reporter for The Ravalli Republic.