Lolo National Forest acquires 5,372 acres near Missoula

Joshua Murdock

Thousands of acres of former industrial timber lands near Missoula prized for recreation and public land access are now public lands themselves. 

In a deal coordinated by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, the U.S. Forest Service purchased 5,372 acres of former Weyerhaeuser Company lands around the Deep Creek drainage immediately west of Missoula. The lands, most recently owned by MKH Montana, officially entered the public trust as part of the Lolo National Forest around 5 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2022, according to the nonprofit. The land runs along the Deep Creek Drainage, extends south through Sherman Gulch and north to Albert Creek. It comes near Wild Horse Point and also includes a parcel in the upper reaches of the O’Brien Creek drainage on Missoula’s southern fringe. 

The land is visible from Missoula, sitting about 10 miles west of downtown and across the Clark Fork River from Harpers Bridge Road and the former Smurfit-Stone Mill site. Fostering the lands’ transfer into public hands was part of the nonprofit’s Missoula Valley Front Country Access Project. TPL previously coordinated a 14,800-acre acquisition along U.S. Highway 12 toward Lolo Pass.

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