As the balsamroots begin to bloom, Five Valleys and the City of Missoula are happy to report that the first annual winter closures across Mount Dean Stone were a success. The upper portion of the Mount Dean Stone Preserve, owned by the City, was under a dog closure from December 1 - May 1. Further up the mountain, the House of Sky Trail corridor reopened to recreation on May 15th. These closures help support the 200 elk that utilize the mountain for important winter range during their most stressful time of year. Now that the snow is gone and the elk have more options, plan your next day on Dean Stone by checking out the Mount Dean Stone Public Access Map.
In March, the 20+ member Mount Dean Stone Committee gathered to reconnect after winter and discuss the Mount Dean Stone management framework, which was developed by a Committee working group last summer. This framework builds upon the Mount Dean Stone Guiding Principles that were previously developed by the Committee, and which laid out a multi-partner vision for the entire complex.
Five Valleys is excited to put the management framework into action later this year through the creation of the Mount Dean Stone Community Forest. This next phase of the project involves Five Valleys purchasing 2,500 acres on the southside of the mountain from The Nature Conservancy. This purchase will be made possible by grants from the USFS’ Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and a significant donation from The Nature Conservancy in Montana.
For the last 15 years, The Nature Conservancy has stewarded the mountain with both the community and natural resources in mind. This ethos will be continued through the Community Forest model which sees forests conserved and managed for recreation, wildlife habitat, and community health and economic needs. The Nature Conservancy’s efforts will also be continued through their contributions to the purchase transaction, which will seed an innovative stewardship fund that Five Valleys and our partners will be able to use to ensure that Mount Dean Stone remains a place for both people and wildlife. Five Valleys would like to thank The Nature Conservancy for their vision, generosity and partnership.
Assisting in stewardship of the property will be Five Valleys’ new Land Steward, Mari Houck. As you enjoy Mount Dean Stone this summer, we hope you’ll tell Mari hello!
Header photo from Legacy Point by Lena Viall
Elk photo by Alan Ramsey/MPG Ranch