Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Nearly a year after gathering at the base of Marshall Mountain on a cold spring morning to express their interest in buying the property, Missoula County this week is expected to close on the purchase.

Barring any last-second surprises, the closing documents will seal the mountain's acquisition as the region's newest public asset.

“We're scheduled and everything is falling place,” said Kali Becker, the county's open lands manager. “Everything is looking good.”

The city and county in early October both approved spending $1 million each from their share of the open-space bond to purchase 480 acres on Marshall Mountain. The property represents three separate but adjoining parcels, each owned by a separate entity.

Commissioners on Tuesday are expected to sign the closing documents for each parcel, and the title company will likely close the transaction on Thursday.

“We've scheduled closing for Marshall Mountain for all three parcels on March 28,” Becker said. “We'll be closing on all three properties simultaneously.”

The purchase price for each 160-acre parcel was set last year, including $1.8 million for the Izzy Dog property, $75,000 for the parcel held by The Five Valleys Land Trust, and $400,000 for the land held by The Conservation Fund.

Along with $2 million in open space funding, the county landed a $600,000 grant from the Community Forest Program and $400,000 from the Conservation Alliance. Annual operations and maintenance costs are estimated at $400,000, though some programming funds could help cover part of that amount once the county and city assume management.

With closing planned, county officials on Monday praised the process as both complicated and rewarding.

“Making sure we appropriately celebrate all the community partners in this is really critical in recognizing this community success story,” said Chet Crowser, the county's chief lands and communities officer.

Crowser also praised Becker and Juniper Davis for the effort's success. Davis works as the county's manager of parks and trails.

“The number of hours and hours going into the nitty-gritty details and lining up the agreement with the city after acquisition – this is a good example of all the things that happen behind the scenes the public is never aware of,” Crowser said. “Hats off to them both for the countless hours they've spent getting to this point.”