New program to train the next generation of wilderness packers
HUNGRY HORSE, MONTANA— In the 20 years since its creation, Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation volunteers have maintained over 5,000 miles of trails in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and donated millions of dollars of labor for public lands stewardship through trail work and noxious weeds management.
This backcountry stewardship work would not be possible without pack support from horse and mule strings carrying gear, food, and tools up to 30 miles each way from trailheads to wilderness project locations.
Packing and stock use has a rich heritage in The Bob and has helped to shape the character of the Wilderness Complex and its users.
However, packing is a fading skill: as members of the packing community retire, there are fewer and fewer young packers coming up to take their place.
Ensuring that packing knowledge and skills are passed on to future generations of wilderness packers is critical to preserving Montana heritage and enabling wilderness stewardship to continue for years to come.
With this goal, Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, with the support the Backcountry Horsemen Flathead and East Slope Chapters, have established a packer apprentice program. This program will provide a unique opportunity for aspiring packers to train with some of the most respected packers in Montana in order to pursue future careers packing with outfitters or government agencies. As one of the first programs of its kind, the BMWF Packer Apprentice Program will begin with two apprentices for the 2016 field season. Hardworking individuals with a love for the wilderness, stock, and traditional skills can apply HERE.