The papers were signed, the barrier to the parking lot was removed and the new Skalkaho Bend Park sign was installed at Hamilton's newest city park Thursday. Gavin Ricklefs of the Bitterroot Land Trust and Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf attended the sign unveiling Thursday afternoon as the park officially opened in time for the July 4th holiday weekend.

The park adjoins the current river park along the east bank the Bitterroot River on the south edge of Hamilton. It is being kept in a natural state for hiking, biking and enjoying nature. Ricklefs said over $100,000 in preparation work has been done by several groups and city staff to get the public park ready for use. The parking lot on Bailey Avenue is now open. The city public works department has built bridges and fence and mowed the grass which marks trails in the open areas. Signs are posted to stay on the trails and to keep your dog on a leash. Wildlife, including deer and elk, are often in the river bottom.

The Bitterroot Land Trust was a main promoter of the project, bringing it to the Ravalli County Commission in 2018. The Commission unanimously voted final approval of the Open Lands Board project this Wednesday and Mayor Farrenkopf signed the legal documents making it part of the city Thursday, July 2nd. There have been concerns about hikers and bicyclists straying off the park onto private property, especially on the south end of the area. City officials warn people that trespassing laws will be enforced.

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