It's not the final plan, but for the first time, planners with the City of Missoula are giving us a look at the "design concept" for the future of Marshall Mountain. 

And that could pave the way for the city to assume full ownership of the site in 2023.

Marshall Mountain came close to being shut down to public access and sold to a private out-of-state buyer in 2021. Community concern over the future of the former ski area, now a popular destination for mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, and hikers led to a local group stepping up to buy the land. Izzy Dog, LLC bought the 160-acre base area and combined it with the 160-acre mid-mountain already owned by Five Valleys Land Trust. 

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Now's your chance to review ideas for Marshall Mountain

Since the agreement was signed, Marshall Mountain has been managed by Missoula Parks and Recreation, with the goal of the full site coming into public ownership next year. That's allowed for continued, controlled use of the property.

Now, Parks and Rec managers are releasing details of a "design concept" for Marshall Mountain and presenting it for public comment. 

Ecosystem Supervisor Morgan Valliant says the concept isn't a final plan but gives an "initial vision" of what future development of the park "could look like." The ideas came from workshopping ideas with the various user groups last year. 

Graphic; City of Missoula
Graphic; City of Missoula

Possible features include a multi-use loop trail.

That trail would be built to "adaptive standards". Other features include event areas, an indoor space for programs, and a trailhead that would allow access to the mid-mountain without interfering with other events. In fact, the entire trail design is designed to prevent user conflicts and allow for future expansion. 

People are being invited to comment on the design concept for Marshall Mountain online through December 23rd. Full details can be seen at Engage Missoula. 

The city will have the opportunity to purchase the entire mountain property for an agreed-upon $ 1.9 million in 2023. City leaders are anticipating using money from the Open Space Bond Program to pay for the acquisition. 

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