MWA During Covid-19
Here’s how we’re responding to the pandemic
Updates from Executive Director
In light of the new reality that Covid-19 has brought to our lives, we have had to make some hard decisions and take a range of actions to ensure we are doing our part to stop the spread of the virus and are keeping our staff, their families, our members, volunteers, and other supporters safe and healthy.
Rest assured that while the pandemic has changed how we operate, our commitment to wild public lands in Montana has only deepened as we’ve come to a renewed understanding of just how vital these lands are for our physical and mental health and how important they will be for our economic recovery once the virus subsides. We simply cannot afford to slow down our work to protect these places and lands that we so depend on for our well-being and quality of life.
This web page, with updates on how MWA is responding to the virus, will remain up as long as the virus continues to be a threat to public health and safety. Please check back here periodically for the latest information on how we’re adapting to Covid-19.
As always, thank you so much for supporting our work, especially during this challenging time we’re living in.
Wilderness Walks and Volunteer Trail Crew
MWA has led Wilderness Walks every year since 1960 as a way to connect our supporters with Montana’s wildlands. So it was with a heavy heart that we decided to cancel the remainder of the 2020 Wilderness Walks season. We felt compelled to do this to help keep our Wilderness Walks leaders and participants safe and healthy during this recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Montana.
If you’ve already signed up for a hike or were thinking of doing so, be sure to visit Hike Wild Montana to see what hikes you might be able to do on your own. And here are some tips for getting out on public lands during this tough time.
Effective July 11, trail stewardship activities will resume with Covid-19 response plans in place. All volunteers will be provided with Covid-19 related safety and educational information and will be required to adhere to social distancing and safety guidelines. Participation will be limited to eight volunteers per project and participants will be required to sign Covid-19 liability waivers. For more information, contact Stewardship Director Matt Bowser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All in-person MWA events have been canceled through July 5. After this date, in-person events can be held as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Please keep an eye on your email inbox for invitations to events we’re now holding online, including our Spring into Summer get-togethers.
Our annual WildFest event will be held online this year on Saturday, Oct. 24. You can find more details about WildFest on our event page.
Staff and offices
To protect the health of our staff and their families, MWA employees are encouraged to work from home. Offices may be used for face-to-face meetings and activities to conduct MWA business of chapter boards and staff may resume as long as social distancing and county, tribal, state, and CDC guidelines, as well as individual office plans, are followed.
Effective June 18, staff may resume travel within the state for work-related purposes as long as social distancing can be maintained. All out-of-state work-related travel is still restricted. That means all of our offices – in Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, Bozeman, Whitefish, Libby, and Billings – will be closed to the public until further notice.
How we can stay connected
Until we’re all able to physically come together again, remember that we have several online resources that can help us all stay connected as a community of people who love the outdoors and champion wild places.
- Visit our Action Center for ways you can help protect public lands and wild places. Also read our blog post, Advocacy in the Time of Distancing, for more on how you can protect public lands from home.
- Visit hikewildmontana.org for hundreds of trail recommendations, including many hikes that are featured in our 2020 Discover Wild Montana book. (Before heading out, be sure first to read our tips for hiking responsibly during Covid-19.)
- Join our Hike Wild Montana Facebook group and share photos and stories of the experiences you’ve had on our public lands.
I’d also encourage you to follow us on Instagram for a regular dose of Montana at its most beautiful, and to explore our Wild Life blog, where you can revel in our public lands through story and image.
Again, be sure to keep an eye on your email inbox to stay informed about our work and for invitations to special webinars we’ll be holding over the next couple of months.
Ben develops MWA's organizational strategy and works with our grassroots community, partners, and board of directors to achieve MWA's mission and ensure our long-term health and effectiveness. He spends his time connecting to Montana's wild places and rivers by hiking, kayaking, and skiing with his wife, daughter, and dogs.