Calling it a prudent investment, Missoula County on Tuesday placed a $350,000 offer on 27 acres west of Missoula, where it plans to mine gravel for local use and save money down the road.
Located near the Wye just south of Interstate 90, the site contains a small quarry. If approved, the project should provide the county with enough gravel to last two decades.
Shane Stack, the county’s director of Public Works, said estimates suggest that the site contains around 450,000 cubic yards of crushable gravel.
“The benefit to the county is that we don’t have to purchase gravel from commercial services and pay for the additional cost of acquiring that material,” he said. “We can crush it ourselves and we can do it probably for a lot less than a contractor would charge us.”
The county approved the $350,000 offer on Tuesday, though the deal hinges on a number of other factors. The property will be appraised only after the county’s offer is accepted.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality also must approve the county’s opencut mining permit. County engineer Erik Dickson said the chances for approval were good.
“It’s a lot shorter and cheaper process than I would have thought,” he said. “The potential here is great and it’s in a great location, so it’s a great opportunity.”
Dickson said the county has reached out to the area’s roughly 15 property owners and made contact with eight of them. No concerns have been expressed thus far, he said Tuesday.
The county currently holds around $620,000 in its land-use account and plans to direct that funding toward the purchase. The county also plans to reclaim the site once the operation closes in 15 to 20 years.
Stack said the county easily spends more than $350,000 a year on gravel. Owning and operating its own gravel quarry would save money.
“For the cost of one year of material to purchase, we’d be able to buy this site, bring our crusher here, and crush for a few weeks to get the material we need for the next year,” he said.