Applause, hugs and high-fives followed a near-unanimous decision by the Missoula County Commissioners and Missoula City Council to acquire Marshall Mountain on Wednesday.
Both bodies voted jointly to expend $1 million each in Open Space Bond funding to purchase the 480-acre mountainside near East Missoula. The total estimated price for the site is pegged at $3.8 million.
“I think that the time is now,” said Ward 4 City Councilor Amber Sherrill from behind a laptop adorned with an “I love public lands” sticker in the shape of Montana. “Land conservation is opportunistic and today is our opportunity.”
Marshall Mountain closed as a private ski area in 2003. Since then, a trio of private landowners has taken over the three parcels that make up the mountain: The Conservation Fund, Five Valleys Land Trust and Izzy Dog, LLC. Now, Izzy Dog and FVLT are offering up their portions at below-market value in order for the city and county to keep the mountain in public ownership.
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“It’s a wonderful way to spend our resources,” said Rick Wishcamper, one of the four members of Izzy Dog. His group