A new 124-acre open house and recreation space overlooking the Missoula Valley is preparing for its debut, and town is in search of public enter on learn how to handle the land.
The Bluebird Preserve is the newest addition to Missoula’s conservation lands system and is situated above Grant Creek. It was bought in 2019 by town with $450,000 in taxpayer cash from the 2006 voter-approved Open Space Bond.
It’s anticipated to be open to the general public within the fall of 2022.
“We assume it should be common,” mentioned metropolis conservation lands supervisor Jeff Gicklhorn. “It’s going to get quite a bit of use. We’re excited.”
Trailhead entry to the new space will likely be situated simply north of the Grant Creek Conoco gasoline station, subsequent to the massive gravel Snowbowl shuttle car parking zone.
Becky Goodrich, a communications specialist with town’s parks and recreation division, mentioned this mission “wouldn’t be doable with out the sturdy partnership of Montana Snowbowl and their collaboration in finding the general public entry easement and trailhead throughout their decrease Grant Creek lot.”
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The whole preserve is constructed upon a long time of conservation work in Missoula’s North Hills and offers vital leisure and scenic values, Goodrich added.
“The property additionally offers habitat for grassland species, together with the endemic Missoula phlox, bitterroot, elk, birds of prey and bluebirds,” she wrote in an e mail. “In addition, the mission offers open house entry for residents within the quickly rising space west of Reserve Street, which is underserved by the conservation lands system.”
Gicklhorn mentioned the new preserve additionally has an additional benefit. It offers seasonal public entry to trails on an adjoining 304-acre conservation easement owned by Republic Services. That property is barely open throughout half of the 12 months.
The public is invited to view a draft management plan and take a brief survey at engagemissoula.com by way of March 11.
The draft management plan proposes that town will construct roughly 4 miles of new moderate-grade trails for pedestrian and equestrian customers with year-round entry to the preserve and the Republic Services conservation easement. The plan additionally outlines methods to guard and improve the phlox and different native grasses. It additionally outlines methods to handle non-native invasive grasses.
“The draft management plan guides the leisure infrastructure improvement and pure useful resource management priorities for the whole 428-acre parcel comprised of the Bluebird Preserve and Republic Services conservation easement,” Gicklhorn defined.
The property was initially going to be developed for housing, however planners discovered it unfeasible to construct a street to entry the flatter elements of the property. The native nonprofit Five Valleys Land Trust then labored with the property homeowners and town to preserve the land and put it in public arms.
“One cool factor about this parcel is there’s been quite a bit of group involvement,” Gicklhorn mentioned. “Without Snowbowl, you could not get onto this property legally. Without Republic Services, you do not have half the paths. And Five Valleys Land Trust performed an enormous function.”
He famous that the property is generally south-facing, so it will keep pretty dry within the winter. It will in all probability be highly regarded within the center of the day throughout summer season, however the views to the west will give late-day hikers and horseback riders a incredible sundown expertise.
“The prime of the ridgeline was principally scraped, and the soil was pushed to the facet, so we need to use that space and mound these piles up into an overlook,” Gicklhorn mentioned. “And we’ll have a path that brings you up on prime.”