Butte’s newest park isn’t officially open yet, but county officials certainly aren’t discouraging anyone or their dogs from taking it in.
“It’s in pre-opening condition you might say,” Parks Director E. Jay Ellington said Tuesday. “We more than likely will have a soft opening later this fall and send something out that says the park is now open.”
Whatever its official status, Skyline Park off of Continental Drive is gaining popularity already.
Several amenities have been added in the past several months, including playground equipment, benches, picnic tables, restrooms and, most recently, maps and interpretive signs that will be part of a school curriculum developed just for the park’s 57 acres.
The main trail through the center of the park and around a kids' fishing pond has been paved, there are trout in the pond and a trail has been added so folks have a straight shot from the parking lot to the Butte-Silver Bow’s only designated off-leash dog area on the park’s east end.
And there is more to come.
There will be more picnic tables, a fountain will be installed as a water source for the dog park this spring and a “bullpen” will be added to the front of that area.
“You will enter the dog area through one gate, take off the dog’s leash in the bullpen and then open a second gate,” Ellington said. “That’s to keep dogs from going out.
“The other thing we are looking at trying is dividing the dog park area so there’s one for small dogs and one for large dogs,” he said. “That is pretty common with dog parks throughout the country.”
The playground toward the front of the park is designed to accommodate kids with disabilities and the pond is for all kids – but not adults – to fish.
Signs posted throughout the park with maps show where you are and explain various park features and environmental lessons, including restoration work that has been done, native plants scattered here and there and the ecology of a pond.
The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program at Montana Tech has developed an environmental curriculum for schools with lessons specifically tied to the park and its ecosystems.
“This is the first park in Butte-Silver Bow that will have that much of an educational, outdoor opportunity,” Ellington said.