Missoula's next open space legacy, Mount Dean Stone, seeks to connect open space and trails across a 4,200 acre complex, from Missoula's Pattee Canyon across the ridge of Mount Dean Stone and down into Miller Creek. The goal of the Mount Dean Stone project is to solidify our community's connection to our landscape, improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire on the edge of town, safeguard the next generation's access to the lands we depend upon for our rich quality of life, and protect wildlife habitat.
“Fundamentally, this is conservation serving our community goals. This community wants more trails and more access to outdoor recreation out the door. The trails we currently have near town are a core part of our unique quality of life, but they are increasingly crowded and predominantly on the north side of town. Our community is anticipating massive growth in the decades ahead and this is a chance for our open space infrastructure to keep pace with growth and maintain our quality of life and sense of place” said Grant Kier, former Five Valleys Executive Director.
The project got its start when Five Valleys began working with the Barmeyer family in 2014, to protect their land in Pattee Canyon. The Barmeyer easement was finalized 2016, and in 2018, the Barmeyer Trail, the first new trail on Mount Dean Stone, opened to the public. Learn more about the Barmeyer Trail.
Mount Dean Stone will serve as a recreational area for a part of Missoula without much open space access, and has the potential to become a cornerstone of Missoula’s south-side neighborhoods, much like Mount Jumbo and the Rattlesnake recreation areas are for residents in the northern end of Missoula. The project is bigger in scope than the acquisition of Mount Jumbo twenty years ago, and will help create a 180-degree arc of community open space around the City of Missoula.
Currently, Five Valleys is engaged in acquiring a 2,500-acre parcel that spans the mountain's southeastern flank currently owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), as well as the necessary parcels that will connect the Barmeyer Trail and the adjacent South Hills Spur to the TNC parcel over the Mount Dean Stone ridge. While Five Valleys raises the needed funding to acquire the TNC parcel, The Nature Conservancy is generously allowing public access to this rugged and scenic parcel.
The Mount Dean Stone project is a multi-partner, multi-year effort. The massive project would not be possible without the collaboration of over 20 partnering organizations and businesses, that have united to form the Mount Dean Stone Committee. Led by Five Valleys, the Committee helping to guide the project, which aims to serve as the future model of conservation to sustainably maintain public access for humans on the landscape.
The price tag on the project is expected to be about $4-4.5M over three years. With the help of generous landowner and community donations, Five Valleys has made progress towards this goal, but there is still more work to do.
• Download the 2019 Public Access Map and start exploring the Mount Dean Stone landscape. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing project--please respect trail closures and private property boundaries, and practice good trail etiquette and stewardship.
• Help guide future trails and stewardship by reporting natural resource and community usage and providing feedback to Five Valleys Land Trust.
"There's so much value for the community in having these public spaces. I think about what Missoula would have been like without Mount Jumbo, Mount Sentinel and the North Hills. I would love if in ten years people are saying, 'What would Missoula have been like without Mount Dean Stone?' It's an ambitious project, but it's worth it." - Mike Foote, Five Valleys board member and community member.
At the close of the year, Five Valleys finalized three land deals that will one day provide a trail corridor around the Mount Dean Stone ridge.
This season was chock-full of events, planning and developments across Mount Dean Stone.