A Monumental Evening for Missoula

by jhwygirl

Last night’s city council meeting saw the approval of 627 acres of open space easements in the south hills of Missoula, an event that Missoulians forever will look back (or up, or over) and be grateful.

Missoula was actually blessed with 1052 acres of open space easements – including a 425 acre easement that was outright donated by the Hayden family.

The Hayden family made their donation to Five Valley’s in early October.

The Rimel family’s easement – 160 acres of their working ranch – and the Line family’s – 427 acres of their working ranch – were put into conservation easement by Five Valley’s Land Trust and preserved in perpetuity as open space on the hills surrounding the the valley.

1052 acres is a hell of a lot of land. In fact, the easement represents a large majority of all remaining South Hills open space visible from most of the City and the Missoula Valley.

Five Valley’s Land Trust had a really neato 3-D map that put the size and scope of the open space into an awesome perspective. I couldn’t find it on the website. Hopefully they’ll be putting it up.

The easements cost the city and county $1,167,750 of its open space bond – and Five Valley’s Land Trust donors threw in $200,000 more.

The Line and Rimel families weren’t finished with just placing their land into conservation easement. They reduced the cost of that easement, combined, by 42% of the fair market value of the land. In other words, this easement should have cost almost double what it did.

This open space – unlike the other recent acquisitions – came with an amount of public access. John Rimel agreed to a public trail easement along the north border of his property. If negotiations are successful – with the Craighead’s, I believe – the public will have access from the Whitaker Drive and Rimel Road all the way to Hillview Way, connecting to Moose Can Gully Park.

John Rimel spoke, emotionally, to council last night, detailing how the discussion all began – years ago, over a few beers. Six month later, another beer or two – and eventually things began to come together. Just hearing him speak made me want to give him a big ole’ hug.

Instead, maybe I’ll just send them a Christmas card.

Thank you Dick and Joyce, John and Whitney, and the Line family. You’ve given Missoula a legacy that generations yet unborn will enjoy. Forever.


  1. Doug in Flathead

    Ummm, 640 acres is One square mile.

    Other than that, another great posting.

    Keep up the good work, D.

  2. Oh geez! Township/Section – how in the hell I could have screwed that up!?

    Thanks MT…

    note: I’ve edited my monumental mistake.

  3. Heidi Kendall

    Thanks for this posting. It is an amazing thing these families did for their (and all of our) kids and grandkids, etc. This was one of my favorite City Council meetings in my four-year term, and I’ll bet it was one of Jack Reidy’s favorites in 20+ years. He has wanted some open space in that part of town for a long time.

    The property is beautiful and visible from most parts of the city. The families’ testimonials were also beautiful and touching.

    Thanks go to the families, and to city Parks & Rec staff and to the extraordinary Wendy Ninteman at Five Valleys Land Trust.

    What a great place we have here.

  4. This is the first I’ve heard of this. What a great thing!

  5. I’m surprised, Daniel, that it hasn’t gotten more notice. Should have been all over the news. Only got a minor mention (IMO) in the paper.

    Check out the e-packet from the last city council meeting….there’s a good map and much more information than what I posted.

    I keep meaning to contact FVLT to ask them to put those 3D maps on their website somewhere – anywhere, just so I can link to them.

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