The recent City Club July presentation focused on the future of Marshall Mountain and how the community will be able to access the area for recreational and educational programs.
Attendees at the meeting included Rick Wishcamper, owner of Izzy Dog LLC and the Marshall Mountain area; Morgan Valliant, Superintendent of Ecosystems at Missoula Parks and Recreation and Chet Crowser, Director of Community Services and Planning for Missoula County.
Valliant said Marshall Mountain has been a mainstay in recreational and mountain biking programs for many years since the ski resort closed more than 20 years ago.
“Over the past 20 years, it has truly become our community’s ‘unofficial’ home for recreation, programming and outdoor events,” Valliant said. “Thousands of local youth and adults are learning new skills in outdoor recreation. We have local businesses and non-profits that have started using Marshall Mountain to get kids out into natural areas around our community.
Valliant pointed out that as Missoula has grown, the need for Marshall Mountain and its recreational opportunities has become even more important.
“Our Forest Service front country lands around Missoula are at capacity,” he said. “You can’t get new permits to do new programs or take groups onto these Forest Service lands. And so Marshall has really played this unique role for 20 years and made the site accessible to children and adults from all walks of life.
Valliant said it’s obvious that providing children with educational and recreational opportunities so close to Missoula is an invaluable resource.
“For those of you with kids, I don’t think you’ll find this a surprise, but the cost of childcare is really high,” he said. “That’s true whether you have them in daycare or in a summer program so you can keep working. It won’t come as a surprise, but by the time your child flies away and leaves home, you’ve essentially paid for an undergraduate degree. It’s actually cheaper to go to the University of Montana for four years than to raise a child and put them in daycare and a program.
Valliant said the various groups and agencies involved in securing the Marshall Mountain area continue to plan for fundraising success.
“By the end of this summer, we will have adopted a master plan by early fall,” he said. “There are many opportunities for you to engage in development with this master plan. Then, starting this fall until the end of our lease term in the spring of 2023, we will actively fundraise and acquire and then build Marshall Mountain.
The original estimate to purchase the property was $1.85 million and fundraising continues to meet that goal.
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