On Wednesday Oct 4th, 2023 the Missoula County Commission and City Council voted to allocate $2 million of Open Space Bond funds to acquire Marshall Mountain Park. This is a major step forward in the project and sets a clear course toward public ownership. Getting to this point has taken significant contributions from many community leaders including, but not limited to: City of Missoula, Missoula County, Five Valley's Land Trust, Izzy Dog LLC, Friends of Marshall Mountain Park, and The Conservation Fund.
The final step to putting Marshall in permanent public protection is raising the remaining amount it will take to purchase the land and make essential improvements. Friends of Marshall Mountain is selling and raffling off chairs from the lift in order to reach this financial goal. Once these funds have been raised and the purchase finalized, Marshall will be under the ownership of Missoula County, and our work to enhance it's trail system will begin.
While our ultimate goal is to have around 12 purpose-built, downhill mountain bike trails at Marshall Mountain when all is said and done, the first phase of building will focus on two of the parks biggest needs; a real "easy up" trail and an adaptive-friendly downhill trail. The construction of these trails will increase accessibility and inclusivity at Marshall by making the climb to the top easier and giving individuals on adaptive bikes a long awaited for downhill route that has berms and other features mountain bikers desire, while meeting the specifications necessary to allow for adaptive equipment. This adaptive trail will be the first of it's kind in our area, and is something we are excited to bring to our community.
Another unique opportunity lies ahead as the mountain will be managed by the county, allowing the potential for increased ebike access in Missoula. While no official decisions have been made on this subject yet, this could be a chance to expand ebike friendly trails outside of Blue Mountain, while keeping trail user conflict low through the use of directional trails.
Marshall Mountain offers massive potential to increase access to recreation and further conservation right in our backyard. Thank you to everyone who participated in the public planning process and supported the groups responsible for this incredible victory. To learn more about the Master Planning Process, or view the draft design concept, community vision, and public survey results, head to engagemissoula.com.