Money train?Not quite $17,000 ‘mystery grant’ caper solved

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Mineral County has received a $17,000 grant from the Federal Land Access Program to purchase the historic Saltese Trestle. Once the trestle is restored it will be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service and used by snowmobilers, ATVers and bikers as part of the Olympian Trail. (Kathleen Woodford/Mineral Independent)

During the monthly Mineral County Resource Coalition on Jan. 8, co-chair Willy Peck announced that the county had received a $17,000 grant from the Federal Land Access Program. However, the grant was actually awarded two years ago, but the county did not know about it.

“Word never got out that the county had received the award because the contact person had left their position,” he told the group. “Folks calling on the grant never heard back and so they didn’t know what was going on.”

The grant funds were to be used to purchase the Saltese Trestle back from the Montana Nightriders Snowmobile Club, and was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2018. But, because of the communication breakdown, the Federal Land Access Program granted a one-year extension.

The snowmobile club purchased the trestle and two-and-a-half acres because the owner was going to tear it down. The century-old trestle, located 23 miles west of St. Regis, is a crucial component to the Route of the Olympian Trail. A trail used by snowmobilers, as well as ATV and bike riders.

In March, 2016, Brooke Lincoln, owner of the Lincoln’s 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, had approached the county commissioners to see if they would be willing to be a “place holder” for the property until restoration work could be completed. The commissioners agreed to take over responsibility, and ultimately the property will be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service.

Restoration work is estimated to be $1.2 million and there are several organizations who may be able help raise the funds needed to do the work. Currently, the recreation subcommittee for the Mineral County Resource Coalition will be working on the next steps needed to secure the project.

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