I would like to encourage all my fellow Helenans to lend their full and enthusiastic support to the new ADA trail on Mount Helena. The trail underwent a thorough review process at the city and will give our neighbors of all abilities access to Helena’s outdoor beauty. It represents the hard work the disabled community, Helena’s Rotary Club, and all the sponsors of this year’s Ales for Trails.
I have been teaching, researching and writing about environmental history for more than a decade. As I argued earlier in the year when the city made the unfortunate decision to ban e-bikes on trails, the environmental movement has an deep and problematic history of exclusion. I’m willing to bet that we all believe in preserving Montana’s beautiful natural spaces, but as environmentalists we have to be careful to constantly examine our own biases. Environmentalism succeeds when we combine careful science with goals that reflect the ideas and values of all constituencies, not just the ones who look or think like us. Building a new trail for an underserved user group is exactly the right step for Helena’s outdoor recreation community.