Trust for Public Land Permanently Protects Additional 6,000 Acres Near Missoula Montana
Missoula, MT – Trust for Public Land (TPL), in collaboration with MKH Montana, LLC (MKH), and in partnership with the Lolo National Forest, is pleased to announce the permanent protection of 5,949 acres of land immediately west of the growing community of Missoula. This achievement is part of the Missoula Valley Front Country Access Project, a concerted effort to protect valuable natural resources, wildlife habitat, and historic features while ensuring public access to these cherished lands.
Today’s announcement follows TPL’s success in adding over 5,000 acres to the Lolo National Forest at the end of 2022, and the complementary Lolo Trails Landmark project that added over 14,800 acres to the Lolo National Forest in 2021. With the addition of these lands, TPL has now protected over 26,000 acres of forestlands within the Lolo National Forest since 2021.
“Trust for Public Land is thrilled to have completed the permanent protection of these 5,949 acres, continuing our conservation efforts to permanently protect the cherished Missoula Valley front country that so many enjoy and can even view from downtown Missoula,” said Lucas Cain, TPL Montana Project Manager. “By partnering with the Forest Service, we are ensuring that Montanans can continue to access their beloved hunting spots, hiking trails, and scenic viewsheds for generations to come.”
The successful transfer of these lands into public ownership under the management of the Lolo National Forest will not only preserve public access but also safeguard vital wildlife habitat and maintain the natural and historic character of the rapidly growing Missoula Valley.
“The Lolo National Forest is excited to see the completion of the second phase of this Land and Water Conservation Fund acquisition of nearly 6,000 acres of mixed-use lands just west of Missoula. This acquisition builds on the Phase I purchase of 5,372 acres late last year. The addition of these Phase II lands increases continuity of National Forest System Lands on the Ninemile and Missoula Ranger Districts and will allow landscape-level management opportunities in the future. The Lolo NF is looking forward to working with partners to improve the health and resiliency of these acres along with improving recreation opportunities for the surrounding communities,” stated Carolyn Upton, Lolo National Forest Supervisor.
The protected areas to the North of Deep Creek offer abundant opportunities for the thriving communities of Missoula and Frenchtown to partake in outdoor activities such as hunting and exploration. In addition to securing permanent public access, acquisition of these lands also prevents future development, safeguarding critical wildlife habitat and promoting landscape connectivity.
The success of this project can be attributed in large part to the support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Fully funded through the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in August 2020, the LWCF has played a vital role in guaranteeing and expanding access to public lands, benefiting both Montana’s recreational economy and its residents.
“Preserving Montana’s public lands isn’t just about protecting wildlife and ensuring that generations of Montanans have access to the great outdoors,” said Senator Jon Tester. “It’s also about boosting our recreational economy and making sure that folks can continue to capitalize on all that the Treasure State has to offer. That’s why I’ve fought for critical programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it’s why I’ll keep working to make sure our public lands are protected for decades and decades to come.”
“For folks in Montana outdoor recreation isn’t just part of our economy, it’s our Montana way of life. Thanks to the hard work of Trust for Public Land, MKH Montana and my landmark bipartisan ‘Great American Outdoors Act’ we’re increasing public access to our public lands so that generations to come can enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and the great outdoors,” said Senator Steve Daines.
With the permanent protection of 5,949 acres and recent additions totaling over 26,000 acres protected in the Missoula area, Trust for Public Land remains dedicated to its mission of connecting everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. The organization is committed to working alongside its partners to protect additional lands that face the risk of conversion, preserving Montana’s natural heritage for future generations.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.