Winter has come to Western Montana, and snow is already piling up in the mountains. In Missoula, this means that seasonal closures are in effect on Mount Jumbo and the upper reaches of Mount Dean Stone.
This spring, Five Valleys and the Mount Dean Stone Committee were thrilled to open the 4.6-mile House of Sky Trail, which runs along the ridgeline. And while human use slows this time of year, it’s just picking up for the area’s elk.
Mount Dean Stone provides crucial winter habitat for over 200 elk, who migrate each fall to take advantage of lower elevation forage. To meet Missoula’s growing recreation needs and minimize impacts to wildlife, seasonal closures are in place across the upper portion of Mount Dean Stone from December 1 – May 15.
During this time, the entire House of Sky Trail is under winter closure, affecting all forms of recreation. A seasonal dog closure is also in effect across the upper portions of the Mount Dean Stone Preserve Trail. These closures on Mount Dean Stone mirror those now in place on Mount Jumbo. Winter is the most stressful, sensitive time for wildlife. Please help support our wildlife and allow us to responsibly provide new recreation opportunities by respecting these closures.
While wildlife take their turn, we can reflect and celebrate a great 2022 field season – the House of Sky Trail was just the start. We also helped complete a wildfire risk reduction timber project in Bear Run Creek and undertook an intensive Mount Dean Stone Management Framework planning process. Thank you to all our partners, including The Nature Conservancy, Run Wild Missoula, MTB Missoula, City of Missoula Parks & Recreation, Missoula County, the Montana DNRC, Lolo National Forest, and the University of Montana; our tireless volunteers; and many community donors, for making this work possible.
Looking ahead, Five Valleys is thrilled to announce that we will be working with our partners to create the Mount Dean Stone Community Forest in 2023 across 2,500 acres on the south side of Dean Stone currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. This exciting development, made possible by US Forest Service and Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust grants and community donations to Five Valleys, will protect public access, expand recreational opportunities, and secure vital winter range. Stay tuned!
Header photo of elk near Mount Dean Stone, photo by Alan Ramsey/MPG Ranch