Billings TrailNet already has done so much for the city that it was amazing to see the nonprofit begin fundraising last week for what will be one of its crowning achievements — the Stagecoach Trail, a $4 million vision that will connect to the soon-to-be built Skyline Trail at the roundabout intersecting Highway 3 and Zimmerman Trail, and will travel down the Rims to Rimrock Road.
Announcing that Billings TrailNet's first day of fundraising netted nearly $13,000, executive director Kristi Drake pointed out Friday that while a lot of very expensive work will need to be done, just getting the trail engineered will get the project classified as "shovel-ready" and help the city qualify for grants that could pay for much of the rest of the work.
That engineering process took about $200,000 from the nonprofit for the Skyline Trail, but the city subsequently qualified for and received a federal BUILD grant for the project.
The Stagecoach Trail and what Drake refers to as the Canyon Creek Trail, from ZooMontana to Riverfront Park, will complete the organization's overarching goal — a 26-mile Marathon Loop, which would be one of the best urban trail systems in the West — or anywhere.
$13,000 is a long way from $4 million — and the two completing trails together will probably cost around $8 million. But if the city can raise a 20 percent match, acquiring grants to provide the balance is thought to be very possible. So in that context, that's a pretty promising single day of fundraising.
Donations may be made to Billings TrailNet online at BillingsTrailNet.org/Donate, or by calling 406-281-1244.
The Billings Gazette Editorial Board includes President and Publisher Dave Worstell, Regional Editor David McCumber, and Chief Photographer Larry Mayer.