Wear your shades when you’re next at Coal Banks Landing on the Missouri River.
If you don’t, you might be blinded by the fresh paint in the bathrooms, and the shiny new coats of linseed oil on the wooden posts. Or dazzled by the fresh gravel on the paths and the tidied-up windbreak.
Doing the buffing and polishing of the popular launch point on the river were 10 volunteers with the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument, the non-profit organization that supports the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Friends volunteer Len Kopec applies protective linseed oil to the posts at Coal Banks. (Photo BLM.)
With all of the good organization and large amounts of work getting done, the casual observer would never know that this Coal Banks event was actually the group’s backup plan. The Friends were initially scheduled for their annual cleanup of the 49-mile White Cliffs section of the river, to prepare it for boating season. BLM was to pilot the fleet of jet boats; the Friends would serve lunch.
But as is often the case in central Montana, the wind had other ideas.
BLM ranger Brian Woolf (right) and Friends volunteers shovel new gravel off the truck and onto the paths at Coal Banks. (Photo Friends.)
So instead of putting the Friends volunteers on the river to face three-foot swells, BLM lead ranger Brian Woolf and Friends volunteer coordinator Nikki Lister nimbly swapped the Coal Banks cleanup – slated for June – onto the schedule. And voila! Instead of boats, coolers and sunscreen, the volunteers were greeted with rakes, wheelbarrows, paint and linseed oil. And loaner Leathermans for removing old ground cloth from the Coal Banks windbreak. “Just try to remember which end is the sharp one,” deadpanned one ranger as he handed a volunteer his Leatherman.
Just a few short hours later, the 10 volunteers had painted the bathrooms, graveled the paths, coated the wooden posts with protective linseed oil, and pulled out a good amount of old ground cloth from the windbreak. And they got that lunch.
Friends volunteers spreading gravel on the paths at Coal Banks. (Photo Friends.)
“It may not have been the day on the river we’d all been looking forward to, but we were happy we were able to put Plan B into play and not turn away our valuable group of volunteers,” said Friends executive director Beth Kampschror. “And we rescheduled our river cleanup for next month, so we’re looking forward to working with BLM then too – if the wind lets us this time.”
Friends volunteers and BLM staff in front of the freshly graveled paths at Coal Banks. Thank you to everyone who turned out! Coal Banks looks great thanks to your dedication. (Photo Friends.)
The Friends of the Missouri Breaks is a 501(c)(3) organization that protects and preserves the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument by educating the public, advocating for responsible access and environmentally responsible uses, and supporting groups and agencies that protect and restore the Monument. We’re on the web at missouribreaks.org, as well as at facebook.com/friendsofthemissouribreaks.