South of Condon
(3) Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.
(5) Students, through the inquiry process, understand how scientific knowledge and technological developments impact communities, cultures and societies.
Barber Creek Pit, more commonly called Barber Pit, a ten acre piece of United States Forest Service (USFS) land in Section 32, has served the Swan Valley in many capacities over the years. Besides the obvious use as wildlife habitat, it has been a Montana Department of Transportation gravel pit; a dumping area for deer carcasses; and a Saturday night party site. As the gravel pit filled with water and deer carcass disposal became less frequent, the idea of restoring the area for wildlife became increasing popular.
The first restorative events began in 1998 with the removal of highway debris and large tree stumps by the USFS. Since that year, as funding and time have permitted, weeds have been removed; tree saplings and native grasses have been planted; a goose nesting stand and a bat house have been constructed; and much more debris has been removed. In 2006, this area became a restoration/outdoor education project for Swan Valley School’s seventh and eighth graders. Since then, students are the caretakers and users of these ten acres. With few exceptions, students have been on the land once a month for several years.
Students are maintaining the trail as an interpretive trail. They open it every spring and prepare interpretive signs. The trail is signed from May to October. There is a three-quarter of a mile foot trail two-thirds of the way around the pond on the site. The terrain is mostly flat with some uneven ground, vegetation and gravel.
Students track signs of wildlife in their monthly visits. These include: elk and deer; geese and ducks; turtles; coyotes; great blue herons; and more. Elk and skunk tracks have been seen. A great blue heron has been seen taking off from the pond in the spring. A pair of geese has nested every April for the last six years.
Swan Ecosystem has created 20+ lessons associated with visits to the Barber Pit aligned with state educational standards.
Open all year.
Access to the pit is located a few yards from the well-maintained county road.
There is no official ADA access.
Turn off of Montana Highway 83 onto county road, Barber Creek. Travel east until the cattle guard and turn right. Within a hundred yards, the pit area is located on your left.
There is no designated parking area. Park on the side of the road near the gate. There is no through traffic.
Group sizes of less than 30 would be best. Small groups are usually preferable.
Bring bear spray.
Education Coordinator, Swan Ecosystem Center, 754-3137