Missoula’s purchase of a recreation corridor on Mount Dean Stone using funding from the 2018 Open Space Bond became official this week when Missoula County authorized the expense.
The Missoula City Council agreed in 2020 to direct a share of its bond proceeds toward the purchase of roughly 350 acres of open space on the mountain’s north flank to provide greater public access.
A portion of that purchase required $462,000 in city bond proceeds. The county manages the bonds and any expenditures require county approval.
“This was the acquisition of 350 acres of open-space land as part of the South Hills Spur trail corridor,” said Kylie Paul, manager of the county’s Open Lands Program. “It added five miles of trail and protected wildlife habitat.”
The funding was matched by the Five Valleys Land Trust, which secured $1.2 million in real estate and trail donations. That includes the High, Wide and Handsome Trail loop, which lies at the center of the purchase.
The 4.5-mile trail rises over 1,500 feet at an 8% grade.
The funding enabled the city and its partners at Five Valleys to provide public access from open space on the South Hills Spurt to the overlook near the summit of Mount Dean Stone.
Eventually, the trail will extend down the south side of the mountain to Miller Creek through 2,500 acres of land currently held by The Nature Conservancy.
“It’s a great project,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick.