Brad Bauer knows a thing or two about his backyard.

Bauer lives in Montana and works at Montana State University’s Gallatin County Extension, where he directs the Natural Resource Program and assists the communities and individuals in Gallatin, Meagher, and Park Counties in Montana in understanding natural resources. Bauer is helping American Forests and National Park Service staff to raise awareness in the parks by coordinating a myriad of outreach and communications activities. With the help of Bauer and our partners, American Forests will:

  • Create information trailhead signs for hikers and visitors.
  • Collect and distribute information provided by trail users.
  • Send informational materials to private landowners.
  • Install packets of Verbenone, the chemical that repels the mountain pine beetle that poses a great threat to whitebark pine forests.

We spoke with him to learn more about efforts to educate locals on the whitebark park and its future in the region:

Q: What was the goal for the educational trailhead signs? How many hikers would you estimate use the trails annually?
A: The goal of the signs was to catch visitors attention as they begin their trail use and provide a bit of ecological perspective to their forest visit. The sign targets whitebark pine’s ecological importance, challenges, and solutions to these challenges. Several signs will be place on the Gallatin National Forest, which receives nearly 2 million visits per year. Additionally, trailhead signs placed in the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resort will reach an additional population using high elevation habitat.

Q: Have any of the outreach activities (trailhead signs, informational mailings, etc.) that you coordinated been widely successful?
A: We have already received several inquiries regarding the postcards, which has led to several property visits allowing the opportunity to further discuss with the landowner the importance of whitebark pine.

Q: What do you hope citizens of the GYE learn from the outreach?
A: I hope the signs and postcards will provide an improved understanding of the landscape. Additionally, the postcards provide an opportunity for landowners to be engaged in the management and ecology of their forest through Extension.