Whitefish Legacy Partners is a group of community leaders who value recreation, education, and conservation opportunities.We are devoted to establishing a legacy of our natural lands for the residents, visitors, and students of Whitefish and Montana. WLP and the City of Whitefish are working together to implement the 2004 Whitefish Neighborhood Plan. The Neighborhood Plan stipulated community goals for the management and long-term vision for the 13,000 acres of School Trust Lands surrounding Whitefish. These goals entail protecting access, water quality, viewsheds, wildlife corridors and recreational opportunities all the while providing more revenue than ever for Montana’s schools and universities.

Mission Statement:

Whitefish Legacy Partners is a non-profit organization whose community-minded vision is to ensure conservation, recreation and education on the lands around Whitefish for future generations.

Click here to read our Annual Community Report.

Recreation: The Whitefish Trail 

The Whitefish Trail is the anchor project of Whitefish Legacy Partners’ and is the result of a community collaborative project to preserve clean water, public access, recreation, thriving forests, uncluttered views and wildlife. To date, Whitefish Legacy Partners and the City of Whitefish have built 26 miles of trail accessed by seven trailheads readily accessed from town. The trail is comprised of stacked loops, scenic overlooks, beautiful single-track trail and gated logging roads.

With Whitefish Trail construction slated to continue over the next five to ten years, the Whitefish Trail provides a high-quality recreational experience that links the paved trails in Whitefish and the mountain biking trails at Whitefish Mountain Resort with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) State Trust Lands, Flathead National Forest, MT Fish Wildlife and Parks (fishing and boating sites), Flathead Land Trust easement property, and multiple private owners.

For more information about the Whitefish Trail, please click here.  

Conservation: Places Worth Protecting

Public lands and world-class trails are at the heart of Whitefish. Whitefish Legacy Partners recognizes that clean water, recreation, thriving forests, uncluttered views and wildlife are a huge part of our way of life. The Places Worth Protecting Program contributes to this legacy by establishing trails, conservation areas and public access, and continuing traditional forest management by the state. This program creates a legacy of permanent public access and outstanding recreational trails, and it provides Montana schools and universities with over $10 million dollars in much-needed revenue – without a single dollar of taxpayer money. The program is a win-win for all. Recreation amenities like the Whitefish Trail and the PWP recreation easement are the backbone of the local and state tourism economies.

For more information about our conservation work and Places Worth Protecting, please click here.

Education: Community Connections

The Whitefish Trail offers a unique educational opportunity: a community asset that provides an important link between our town and our natural lands. Whitefish Legacy Partners facilitates outings on the Whitefish Trail with the goal of educating locals and visitors alike about the wonders of our Montana backyard and what must be done to protect and conserve it. These programs give children and adults opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and to learn about the interwoven elements of a thriving forest: wildlife habitat, plant life, water sources and aquatic life forms, and healthy forest management.

Click here to learn more about our education program.

Whitefish Legacy Partners Board:

Fred Jones
Board Chair
Retired ski industry executive and outdoor adventurer.
John Anderson
Board Vice Chair
Attorney, Whitefish City Council, Former hunting guide and draft horse logging operator.
Marilyn Nelson
Treasurer
Owner of Nelson Hardware (located in downtown Whitefish), community advocate and Columbia Falls native.
Steve Thompson
Co-Founder and Secretary
Executive Director of the Cinnabar Foundation and life-long environmental activist.
Diane Conradi
Co-Founder and Legal Consultant
Personalized legal services in the areas of real estate, environmental, conservation and water law.
Mike Gwiazdon
Fundraising Committee Chair
CEO of Sportsman Ski Haus, sailor and lover of Montana lakes.
Mike Jopek
Farmer (Purple Frog Gardens), writer and former State Representative HD4.
Ed Lieser
Retired forestry consultant and Forest Service employee, State Representative HD4.
Henry Ricklefs
Retired Plum Creek Timber Co Executive, frequents the Whitefish Trail (with dog Milo).
Leslie Hunt
Friends of Spencer liaison, former co-chair of the Violence Free Crisis Line
Reid Sabin
Co-owner Stillwater Mountain Lodge, landscape and excavation contractor

Legacy Board Staff :

Heidi Van Everen
Executive Director
Long history of developing (and running) trails and advocating for conservation.
Carla Belski
Program Director
Founding Director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. Avid hiker and naturalist.