BILLINGS — It’s been nearly two months since the historic June floods in southern Montana, and residents of the East Rosebud Lake community still can’t easily get to their homes. But that hasn’t stopped some unwelcome visitors from hiking their way in.
Once the flooding stopped, the realization of what had occurred set in for many residents. The road to the homes of the East Rosebud Lake community was washed away. A way to reach the homes was erased overnight, and helicopter or hiking became the only way to access the homes.
"It’s been kind of traumatizing to lose access to your cabin that you still have maintenance on and pay taxes on and all of that but you can't utilize it like you normally would," said Teresa Erickson, the president of the East Rosebud Lake Community Association.
The lack of a road hasn't deterred hikers, however, and many have been caught on camera pitching tents and hiking through people's yards. It's something that Erickson was shocked to find out was occurring.
"I was kind of floored when I heard about this. Montanans don’t do that it's not a Montana value, just to simply trespass on people’s property. It’s obvious that it's private property and it puts the homeowners in an awkward position as well. Many have hiked in, and many get together to pay for a helicopter to fly them in because they want to see their property and many need to get it ready for winter. On top of that, they need to approach someone who's camping in front of their cabin and ask them what they're doing there," added Erickson.
Many of the residents have trail cams set up to capture pictures of animals but instead captured photos and video of people trespassing. She added that after this event those that don't have cameras may consider adding some.
Residents hope a new road will eventually take care of the problem because more homeowners will be able to return to the area. That isn't expected until at least next year, though.
Ken Coffin of the US Forest Service said "a contract for a temporary road could happen in the fall and construction will hopefully be finished by next summer. A permanent road is the next step after that."
In the meantime, Erickson and other residents are just pleading with those who do make the trek to East Rosebud to do the right thing.
"I’m surprised that this happening, to tell you the truth. We just want to call upon people to exercise some common sense and respect. Since when is it okay to simply set up shop on someone’s lawn because they aren’t home?" said Erickson.