No decision on Sawmill Gulch ownership

A decision on the ownership of Sawmill Gulch Road was kicked down the lane until at least May 23, with the Missoula County Commission asking staff to work with the associated parties to find a solution to area residents’ concerns about congestion and safety.

The road is one route to trailheads into the popular Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. But about 10 residents who live up the private, narrow gravel roadway, which runs along the north side of a steep hillside and turns into a single-lane icy road during the winter, say it’s becoming dangerously crowded with the ever-increasing number of recreational users who get vehicles stuck in the snow, or park in pullouts.

In January, they petitioned the county to take ownership of the road. That would allow the county to impose and enforce parking regulations and restrictions, as well as speed limits. Commissioners have balked at the idea, saying they already own a plethora of roadways and can’t maintain all of them.

On Thursday, the commission directed county staff members from the attorney, public works and surveyor’s offices to work with the residents, the city of Missoula, and the U.S. Forest Service,

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