What was once a site eyed for home development is now in the process of becoming the newest addition to the City of Missoula's Open Space program. Facilitated by Five Valleys, the 83-acre South Hills Spur acquisition will significantly enhance opportunities for walking, running, and other low-impact recreational activities around the South Hills, one of the most underserved neighborhoods for access to trails. If the City acquires the South Hills Spur, two new trailheads accessing the property would be opened to the public over the next two to three years.
The South Hills Spur is the first phase of a large, multi-year collaborative conservation effort that will create a new, 4,200-acre conservation lands complex on and around Mount Dean Stone, connecting Pattee Canyon, Miller Creek, Missoula’s South Hills, and the Sapphire Crest. This complex will double the acreage of conservation and recreation lands around Missoula, completing a 180º arc of conservation from the North Hills to the Bitterroot River and securing wildlife habitat, our sense of place, and our quality of life.
Working with Neighbors
While our community’s response to the South Hills Spur has been enthusiastic, some neighbors have expressed concern about the changes this open space project could bring to the neighborhood. Five Valleys has worked to address these concerns in a variety of ways, including taking steps to prevent trespassing and illegal off-road vehicle use and conducting forest thinning to reduce the risk of wildfire and improve habitat. The South Hills Spur proposal would also limit trail construction near the closest homes to provide a buffer between public and private uses. The South Hills Spur and the larger Mount Dean Stone project emphasize a spirit of cooperation and compromise that will benefit Missoula community members for generations to come.
Header photo by Tom Robertson