Missoula County commissioners on Tuesday signed off on an agreement between the local weed district and the Butterfly House and Insectarium, laying the groundwork for a shared facility at the county fairgrounds.
The agreement, which covers everything from insurance to fundraising duties, was delayed over the holidays and again when the pandemic hit.
“Now that we’re starting to pick up fundraising in this new environment, it would be good to have this signed and done,” said Bryce Christiaens with the county.
Plans for the new facility were announced last April in a partnership between the Missoula Insectarium, and the Missoula County Extension and Weed District.
As proposed, the 29,000-square-foot building would house the Weed District and local 4-H, along with other programs occupying around two-thirds of the facility. The Missoula Insectarium would fill the remaining space, offering a classroom, a tropical butterfly house and a demonstration garden on wildflower pollinators.
Backers of the project have said the butterfly house could have up to 25 different species of butterflies and more than 45 species of insects.
“It’ll have a shared learning space and gardens on the interior with the mission of promoting healthy vegetation, healthy plant communities and the interaction they have with pollinators and other insects,” said Christiaens.
The project was included in the first phase of renovations slated for the Missoula County Fairgrounds, which began nearly two years ago and continue to advance.
Under Tuesday’s agreement, the Butterfly House must raise funds for the cost of construction related to the Rocky Mountain Gardens and Exploration Center. A timeline hasn’t been set and no cost estimate was provided in the agreement.
Those behind the project believe it will serve as a unique educational attraction when it opens.
“It’s having a very holistic education facility geared toward both youth and adults and getting them engaged and involved in the natural world,”said Christiaens.