New Open Space For Missoula

Parks and Recreation seeking comment on South Hills Open Space management
Online comment open through April 2

The City’s Parks and Recreation Board, a citizen advisory board to Missoula Parks and Recreation, is soliciting public comment on a draft recreation management plan for newly acquired City open space in the South Hills.

Online public comment on the “South Hills Spur Recreation Management Plan” will be accepted here through April 2, 2017. Additional public comment will be accepted at April meetings of the Conservation Lands Advisory Committee and the Parks and Recreation Board.

The “South Hills Spur” property encompasses 174 acres between Pattee Canyon and the South Hills.  The City acquired the parcel last year using 2006 Open Space Bond funds, in partnership with private landowners and Five Valleys Land Trust. The property provides linkage between public lands in Pattee Canyon and the South Hills, and potentially Mt. Dean Stone. 

The Parks and Recreation Board has designated this area as a Park Preserve as defined in the City’s Conservation Lands Management Plan. A park preserve is managed to protect natural resources and provide opportunities for nature-oriented recreation. Other park preserves around the City include Mt. Jumbo, Mt. Sentinel, the North Hills, and Tower Street Open Space.

City staff and the Conservation Lands Advisory Committee have developed a recreation management plan for the South Hills Spur which balances recreational use with resource conservation. 

The plan defines broad restoration goals, depicts trail routes, trail-use designations, trailheads, and signage locations. Initial costs and weed management of the property is funded in part by Open Space Bond funds. 

Further plan implementation, including trails, signage and site restoration, will be funded by the City’s Conservation Lands Management Program’s annual operating budget.

Approximate cost for plan implementation ranges between $65,000 and $85,000 over 3 years. 

Public comment will also be accepted at the April 3 meeting of the Conservation Lands Advisory Committee (4 p.m.), and at the April 11 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board at 12 p.m. Both meetings will be held at Currents Aquatics Center in McCormick Park, Headwaters meeting room. The Park Board will consider adoption of the management plan at the April 11 meeting.  

All comments will be considered before finalizing and adopting the plan. When the plan is adopted, Parks and Recreation will prepare the area for public use. The South Hills Spur Open Space will be accessible to the public from Pattee Canyon Drive when Phase 1 trailheads open this fall (pending construction schedules). Phase 2 trailheads, located near Mansion Heights Drive, will open in Fall 2018.

For more information, please contact Conservation Lands Manager Morgan Valliant at 552-6263 or via email

Open Space Funding

In 2006, Missoula City and County residents approved a $10 million open space bond by an impressive 70% majority. Half of the money will be for the greater Missoula area and one-half for the remainder of the County. Expenditures of approximately $2.3 million dollars for projects have been approved thus far for 2006 Open Space Bond fund including land in the North and South Hills, Milwaukee Trail from Russell to Reserve and the Grant Creek Trail, the Marshall Canyon and East Missoula additions to Mt. Jumbo, and 40 acres adjacent to Kelly Island.

That leaves a balance of approximately $2.7 million of the city's share. The 1995 Open Space Bond has a balance of approximately $385,000, which we hope to use for park expansion in neighborhoods which are currently underserved by parks.


Open Space Bond Project Atlas

Missoula County Rural Initiatives created the Open Space Bond Project Atlas for the 5-Year Bond Anniversary Celebration. The Atlas includes projects approved from the County's portion of bond funds, the City's portion, and two joint City and County projects.

Quebec Deschamps Creek Ranch Conservation Easement

The City of Missoula and Missoula County joined forcesin June, 2011to help conserve 1036 acres of working agricultural land and important wildlife habitat located northwest of the Wye. City and county Open Space Bond funds were used to assist the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in the purchase of a conservation easement on the Quebec Deschamps Creek Ranch. The easement guarantees that the Deschamps family, who own the property, will permanently preserve it as open space.