Helena Open Lands System

Helena’s open lands are a great asset to the city.  They hold precious scenic, cultural, recreational, and natural values.  The lands provide a dramatic scenic backdrop and put wildlands directly adjacent to the urban environment but also pose unique management issues.  This Helena Open Lands Management Plan addresses these issues, provides solutions, and creates a vision for the future of Helena’s open lands.

The city of Helena currently owns and manages over 1950 acres of open, undeveloped parkland, including the popular Mount Helena City Park and several other trail locations. Much of this land was purchased with proceeds from the Helena open space bond passed in 1995.  All of the money has either been spent or committed.  So the task remaining is managing and maintaining the land.  In January 2007, the City Commission voted to assess properties citywide to create a maintenance fund for these lands.  The total annual assessment is about $156,000.


Open Lands

  • How many acres are there on Mount Helena?

    Currently Mount Helena is over 900 acres with trails for biking, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

  • I have seen stacks of firewood on the open lands; can I get firewood from those piles or cut my own?

    No, you cannot cut your own firewood on any of city open lands or take the firewood from those piles.  The city donates some of the downed material from our fuels reduction projects as firewood for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). This is coordinated with volunteers to split and transport the cut wood to LIEAP, who then disperses the material to those who qualify for their program.

  • I want to have a bike race or other event on open lands, is there something I need to do in order to have the event?

    Yes, you need to contact the Parks and Recreation office at 406-447-8463 to make a reservation for the event. We will need to know the logistics of the event, its type, date, location, how many people will be attending, parking, duration of event, if you are using tents, amplified sound, etc.  Once all the information is received, the reservation is reviewed to make sure it is appropriate for the area.  Not all events can work at any location in the open lands system.

  • Will I be charged for reserving my event?

    Yes, but the fees vary, so please contact the Parks and Recreation office at 406-447-8463.

  • How many acres are there in the open lands?

    The city of Helena currently owns and manages over 1718 acres of open, undeveloped parkland, including the popular Mount Helena City Park and several other trail locations. Much of this land was purchased with proceeds from the Helena open space bond passed in 1995.

  • Can I have my dog off leash on open lands?

    Dogs are welcome on the open lands, but there are limitations.  City Code states that in natural parks dogs must be kept on leash within 100 yards of the trailhead and must be kept under control, either on a leash or within sight and under voice control of their owners.  This means that all dogs must be on leashes at trailheads.  Once beyond 100 yards, your dog can be off leash only if they are under voice control and in sight.  If they are out of sight, they must be leashed again.  This is to prevent unwanted interactions between people, other dogs, and wildlife.  To report problems with dogs, please call Animal Control at the police non-emergency number 406-442-3233 or if it is an emergency, call 911.  We also ask that you pick up and dispose of all dog waste.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Parks and Recreation Department has several opportunities for those wishing to volunteer.  The code enforcement officer and natural resource coordinator all have activities available that lend themselves to volunteers from the public.  Please contact them directly to inquire.

Greta Dige, Code Enforcement Officer
406-447-8458

Brad Langsather, Natural Resource Coordinator
406-447-8454

Evan Kulesa
Prickly Pear Land Trust
406-442-0490