Since 1939, Montana State Parks has provided quality educational and outdoor recreational opportunities to Montanans and our out-of-state visitors.
But we are at an important crossroads.
The system has experienced considerable growth and improvement over its 75 years. With over 2 million visits each year, Montana’s 55 state parks–including 7 National Historic Landmarks–and recreation programs have become a vital part of the quality of life that all residents enjoy. Visitors to state parks spend over $289 million annually in local communities.
But Montana State Parks continues to face many longstanding challenges. Historically, there has been a lack of awareness and understanding for the system. Funding and staffing levels have remained stagnant over the years. And the system has a growing backlog of deferred maintenance needs and aging facilities.
In 2012, the Montana Environmental Quality Council analyzed the park system in a report to the Legislature and found that while state parks and recreation programs are a tremendous resource for Montana families, communities, and local economies, the system has not been fully supported over the years. Montana needs to be more aggressive and strategic to help the state parks achieve their full potential today and in the future. This is echoed in a number of other Legislative reports that have been produced over the last 25 years.
a new model
We have historically been all things to all people. Moving forward, a new model must be cultivated to prioritize and balance resources within our capacity while also allowing for growth as opportunities arise. We must cultivate diverse and sustainable funding, leverage public funds with philanthropic support, innovate public and private partnerships, and engage users and partners at all levels with the highest sense of accountability to all Montanans.
where we are today
- 55 State Parks covering 46,538 acres
- 7 National Historic Landmarks
- 2.65 million visits in 2016
- Provide over $2 million in recreation grants to city, state, and federal lands
- Over 39,000 hours of volunteer service
- $289 million in annual visitor spending