Missoula County Commissioners last week voted to endorse the Missoula Valley Frontcountry Access Project – an eventual transfer of 18,000 acres of Southern Pine Plantations land into the Lolo National Forest in the Deep Creek area – and a Missoula Current article provides information about this project and other ongoing forest conservation and access efforts involving The Trust for Public Land, USFWS, USFS, Montana FWP, and Southern Pines.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a key funding source for the project. Two quotes within the article highlight the value of the Frontcountry project:
“It may take 20 years, but someday, there will be 150,000 people living in Missoula County and the urban area will be a lot larger and we’ll need more recreational areas than we have,” county commissioner Josh Slotnik said. “And someday, Deep Creek will be more than a place you go to burn an appliance or shoot some tires. It’ll actually be a place to go mountain biking, hiking, (and) all those other outdoor pursuits. And this is a big step in making that a reality.”
“We knew that it was really important both recreation ground for the Missoula community as well as tons of habitat for wildlife and tons of rich water resources,” TPL field representative Catherine Schmidt said. “SPP, at the time that they purchased Weyerhaeuser’s land in Montana, had also purchased this block of land. After working with them for a little bit on Lolo and after making sure they were comfortable working with us and the Forest Service, we approached them to see if they would also be willing to work with us on this Missoula Valley Frontcountry Access Project. Fortunately, they said yes.”
The article also contains comments from a Plains, MT resident who expresses concerns about other SPP lands being sold and subdivided, with resulting open space, wildlife habitat and recreational access lost.