Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) While Missoula County officials remain mum for now, they hinted Tuesday that a grant application through the U.S. Forest Service may have been successful and would, if true, provide a large piece of funding for the Marshall Mountain acquisition.

County commissioners on Tuesday signed a litany of paperwork related to the grant application through the Community Forest Program, which would provide $600,000 toward the proposed purchase of 480 acres on Marshall Mountain.

“There's a lot of paperwork and documents to fill out,” said Kali Becher, the county's open lands manager. “The county would need to bring $600,000 of non-federal match to this program.”

While Becher wouldn't say if the county had received the grant, she said it could provide it's $600,000 match in one of two ways. The first includes the Open Space Bond while the second includes an anticipated in-kind contribution from landowners.

“We have a couple different options of how that funding would be matched,” said Becher.

Both the city's Open Space Advisory Committee and the county's Open Lands Advisory Committee have each recommended up to $1 million in Open Space Bond funding for the acquisition of Marshall Mountain.

The county in July approved an option to purchase 160 acres at the base of the mountain for $1.8 million from Izzy Dog LLC. The proposed purchase of all 480 acres also includes 160 acres owned by The Five Valleys Land Trust, which is asking $75,000 for its portion, and 160 acres owned by The Conservation Fund, which is seeking $400,000.

The $600,000 grant from the Community Forest Program would help cover some of that cost. But Becher isn't ready to say if the grant was successful.

“We're really hoping to be able to make an announcement about it soon,” she said. “In the interim, we have to keep marching on with paperwork. So, soon.”

The city and county are expected to hold a joint meeting in the coming months to consider applying Open Space Bond funding toward the purchase of Marshall Mountain.

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