Last updated 1/4/2017
Summary of Proposal
The Missoula County Board of Commissioners has directed staff to gauge the community’s support to divest of Drew Creek County Park. Under the proposal, the park parcel would be sold per the process defined by Montana Law (MCA 7-16-2324) and at the highest and best use value. The County is committed to directing sale proceeds towards any combination of acquisition, development, or enhancement of County recreation sites and facilities more conveniently located for the majority of Seeley Lake residents.
A condition of the sale will include establishing a public access easement along a segment of the existing road within the park. This easement, in addition to securing public access to Forest Service land to the east, would satisfy a request from adjacent landowners to legally access their property to the south of the park parcel.
Site overview map
- Drew Creek Park is a county-owned conservation park, dedicated to the public with the Double Arrow Ranch, Phase III Subdivision in June of 1972.
- The park is approximately 37 acres with an intermittent stream (Drew Creek) that feeds into Morrell Creek. There is no developed infrastructure on the site.
- The forest stand was twice thinned as part of fuels mitigation projects in the ‘90s and in 2014.
- The location of the park within Double Arrow Ranch poses challenges for public access as many of the roads are private and the park is a considerable distance from the Seeley Lake business district. These conditions led to a recommendation in the County Parks & Trails Master Plan (2012) to consider undertaking a public process to test the community’s support to divest of the park.
- The road through the park was not included on the recorded plat for reasons that remain unknown. See recorded plat document
- The plat does have a notation pertaining to the park area stating that it is subject to an access easement at an undetermined location for access to private and public lands adjoining the subdivision to the east.
Image 1: Forest stand (2010)
Image 2: Roadway through park, facing east
Image 3: USFS gate
Image 4: Switchback turn, facing southwest
The County received a request from the owners of Double Arrow Ranch, Phase III, lots 12-15 to the south of the park to grant a permanent access easement through the park on a segment of the road pictured above. When Double Arrow Ranch Phase III was platted, Montana View Drive was listed as the legal access to these lots. Building sites on many of the lots are not readily accessible from Montana View Drive due to the steepness of the terrain. As a result, many of these lot owners have historically used the unauthorized road segment through the park for physical access to their property.
In December of 2016, the Board of Missoula County Commissioners approved the easement request in exchange for $4,700 following a public hearing. View the resolution and easement documents
At the same time, the Commissioners approved two additional resolutions that solidified public access to the park and adjacent US Forest. The first (Resolution No. 2016-173) recorded the segment of road through the park, from Montana View Drive to the USFS gate, as public right-of-way. The second (Resolution No. 2016-175) revoked a closed segment of Montana Drive, providing a means for the public to reach Drew Creek Park entirely on public roads.
The Board of County Commissioners has advised that the park parcel be considered for sale and that the North-South segment of road through the park be established as an easement. This action would implement the Parks and Trails Master Plan while satisfying the request for legal access from the adjacent landowners. It would also retain public access to reach the USFS land to the east. Moreover, the County is committed to directing proceeds from the sale towards acquiring or enhancing more easily accessed recreation sites in Seeley Lake.
With the easement request now satisfied, County staff will return focus to the divestment proposal in the early spring of 2017.
Frequently Asked Questions (updated 10/18/2016) - responses to some frequent questions raised by community members regarding the proposal
Please contact John Stegmaier, Parks & Trails Coordinator at: 258-3458 for additional information.
At this time, the County is soliciting feedback from the community on this proposal to divest of Drew Creek Park.
Written feedback on the proposal can either be emailed to John Stegmaier or mailed to:
Missoula County, Parks, Trails & Open Lands
Attn: Drew Creek Park
200 W. Broadway
Missoula, MT 59802
You can also fill out the form below. All comments received become part of the public record and will be posted here.