Missoula County Seeking Nominations for Land Stewardship Award

Missoula County Community and Planning Services is now accepting nominations for the annual Land Stewardship Award. The award recognizes landowners and residents who are taking stewardship of land and water seriously and embarking on projects and practices that make a difference for land, water, forests, wildlife and communities.  

Community members and organizations are invited to nominate landowners and residents who are restoring, protecting or enhancing land and natural resources to ensure natural systems are maintained and strengthened. The nomination form is due Friday, April 30, and is available on the CAPS Open Lands website at http://missoula.co/stewardshipaward.  

The award program, through the leadership of the county’s Open Lands Citizens Advisory Committee, recognizes the critical role private landowners and residents play in resource conservation through their stewardship activities.  

Missoula County has presented the award annually since 2011 to show appreciation to tireless, voluntary stewards for the work they do to protect our lands. The county uses the recipients’ successes and challenges to highlight tools and programs landowners and residents can take advantage of to restore, enhance and protect land and water resources.  

The award has recognized previous recipients for their innovative and cooperative land management of forests, ranches and properties throughout the county. An interactive map highlighting past recipients is online at http://missoula.co/stewardshipmap.  

The Community and Planning Services Open Lands Program focuses on connecting communities, private landowners, local organizations and agencies with resources and opportunities to conserve the diverse mix of forests, grass lands, agricultural lands and water resources throughout Missoula County. More information about the Open Lands Program is online at http://missoula.co/openlandsprogram.

Status of Missoula County operations amid COVID-19

Last updated Nov. 19, 2020

With the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, some Missoula County offices have delayed plans to reopen further or have returned to working remotely. 

Below are details for public-facing Missoula County departments. While the Missoula County courthouse remains open to the public, in-person services vary by department.

Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, Missoula County Courthouse First Floor, 200 W. Broadway 

  • The office is closed to public entrance. This includes motor vehicle registration, renewals and transfers, property tax payments or changes, and requests for birth certificates and other records. 
  • Customers are encouraged to complete services online at missoulaclerk.us whenever possible.  

Clerk of Court’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor 

  • The office is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with limited staff. 
  • In-person services will be by appointment-only by calling 406-258-4780.  
  • Residents with questions about jury service are encouraged to email clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us if possible. They can also call 406-258-4780 but should expect longer than usual wait times as the county continues to experience a large volume of calls.  
  • The office requests no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations for marriage license applicants to appear together. 
  • A maximum of three people will be allowed in the customer service area at a time. 
  • Those with appointments should call 406-258-4780 from outside the clerk’s office while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others. Once admitted they must maintain physical distancing of 6 feet in the customer service area. Tape markings on the floor will indicate 6-foot distancing. 
  • A cloth face covering is required for all customers. Disposable masks available upon request. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for customers, and staff will wipe down pens, counters and other items between customers. 
  • Only one person will be allowed in the public search area at a time. Customers should call 406-258-4780 to schedule an appointment. 
  • Marriage applicants may continue to apply for marriage licenses online, without an in-person visit. 
  • Self-represented litigants are encouraged to continue to submit paperwork by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived. 
  • Attorneys in cases not yet available for e-filing are encouraged to continue to submit pleadings by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived. 
  • Email: clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us 
  • Fax: 406-258-4899 

Commissioners’ Office, 199 W. Pine St. 

  • Commissioners continue to hold their public meetings virtually via Teams. 
  • The public can check the commissioners’ schedule at www.missoulacounty.us for information ahead of each upcoming public meeting. 
  • Staff check email, mail and voicemail each day. 

Community and Planning Services127 E. Main St. 

  • Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Community and Planning Services office will be closed to visitors, except those dropping off applications and other work-related materials. The front door will be unlocked so documents can be dropped off securely in the lobby area.
  • The reception and information desk staff will be available by phone and email from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday to field questions from the public about zoning, permits, land use, projects or plans and can be reached by phone at 406-258-4642 or email at zoner@missoulacounty.us.  
  • Meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future.
  • To make a virtual appointment call 406-258-4657 or visit www.missoulacounty.us/caps for additional information.
  • The department encourages the continued submission of documents and forms electronically when possible. 

County Attorney’s Office, Courthouse Fourth Floor 

  • Majority of employees returned to working remotely and can assist the public by phone, mail or email.  
  • In-person assistance is available by appointment/invitation only for purpose of trials, hearings and prep. 
  • Employees working in the office must practice physical distancing for any in-person meetings, including department meetings, public meetings, meetings with law enforcement, victims, witnesses, other attorneys, etc.  
  • Attorneys, court staff, law enforcement, witnesses, etc., may be allowed in the office if accompanied by an employee, necessary for trial or trial prep, and NOT exhibiting any symptoms.  
  • Anyone in the office must wear a face mask, adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and comply with check stations in place. It is required that employees wash hands/sanitize often.
  • Disposable face masks will be available for those who need one.   

Crime Victim Advocate Program, 317 Woody St. 

  • The office will be closed to walk-in and in-person services Monday, Oct. 26 thru Wednesday, Oct. 28.
  • Paperwork packets are available outside the office in a clear tote.
  • For assistance with protection orders via phone, call the main line at 406-258-3830.
  • If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1 or the 24-hour YWCA CRISIS HOTLINE at 800-483-7858.
  • Temporarily, advocates will not physically accompany clients to court appearances but are available via online platform, such as Zoom.
  • For general information, visit www.missoulacounty/cva 

District Court, Courthouse Second and Third Floors 

  • For a detailed list of procedures visit the District Court website. (District Court is a function of the state.)

Elections Center, 140 N. Russell St.  

  • The Elections Center will be open for the extended hours leading up to Election Day:  
    • Saturday, Oct. 24: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  
    • Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
    • Saturday, Oct. 31: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
    • Monday, Nov. 2: 7 a.m. 7 p.m. 
    • Tuesday, Nov. 3: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.   

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula3400 Captain Rawn Way 

  • Due to the uptick in COVID cases, the main museum building will remain closed for general visitation through Thursday, Dec. 31.
  • Tours of the main museum building and galleries are available for small groups by appointment only. Please contact Education Director Kristjana Eyjolfsson at 406-258-3473.
  • Museum grounds are open, and the public is welcome.
  • Museum outbuildings will be closed for the winter beginning Monday, Nov. 2, and will re-open for Forestry Day on Saturday, April 24, 2021.   
  • The museum is no longer accepting book donations.  
  • Volunteer activities are currently on hold. 
  • The museum plans to resume all normal activities when the state enters Phase Three.  

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor 

  • All court hearings other than trials, order of protection hearings, and landlord/tenant possession hearings will be held by conference call or video. Parties should not appear in court unless a judge or clerk instructs them to. 
  • Anyone who receives a ticket should contact the clerk of court at 406-258-3470 to schedule an initial appearance. 
  • Anyone physically appearing in a courtroom must use cloth face coverings. The court will provide disposable masks for those unable to provide their own.  
  • The court is conducting both criminal and civil jury trials and requires advanced notice if a jury trial is going to be continued or vacated. Extra jury confirmation hearings will be held to ensure this.
  • The court is officiating weddings again under limited circumstances.  
  • Upon request, initial appearances, trials and other proceedings will be available to the public via Zoom.  
  • Justice Court offices are open to the public for fine payments and civil filings. 
  • Justice Court helpful links
  • Additional COVID-19 procedures

Missoula County Fairgrounds, 1101 South Ave. W. 

Missoula Public Library, 455 E. Main St.  

  • Curbside lending, online/virtual programming and reference services are available at the new building at 455 E. Main St.  
  • The opening date for the new building is to be determined.

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive 

  • Missoula County Public Works will transition to online-only permitting beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4, and the building will be closed to public access. Public Works will operate permitting in this fashion until the risk of COVID-19 is significantly reduced or eliminated. Permitting services are available online at www.missoulacounty.build. The public is encouraged to use the online services or call staff at 406-258-3701. Pick-up and drop-off boxes are available for coordinated plan drop-off and pick-up and are located outside the front door of the main office at 6089 Training Drive in Missoula.
  • Public Works inspections will continue in person, per usual operations, but may be re-evaluated to determine if changes are necessary to reduce risk. Inspectors will wear face coverings during inspections unless they have requested an accommodation as allowed under the state and local orders. For additional protection of both inspectors and homeowners, homeowners present during inspections will be asked to wear face coverings and maintain a 6-foot distance for the duration of the inspection. To limit the inspector’s time inside the home, discussions between the inspector and the homeowner will be held outside or via phone. On-site customers and contractors are strongly encouraged to wear appropriate personal protective equipment during the inspection and follow social distancing guidelines. To schedule an inspection, contact staff at 406-258-3701.
  • The Seeley Lake office will remain open to the public by appointment only. To make an appointment, contact the Seeley Lake inspector by calling 406-396-8148.
  • The Surveyors Office is closed to the public but is providing service online. Contact Steve Niday with any questions at sniday@missoulacounty.us.
  • Road crew employees are considered a part of the essential workforce because they take care of public infrastructure, so they will work their regular seasonal hours of Monday through Thursday. Road and engineering office staff will work remotely and will reply to all emails and voicemails as they are able. Please call 406-258-4753 or email the general email box at mcpw@missoulacounty.us.
  • Sewer and water services will continue with services as normal, but staff ask that people wear face coverings and maintain a 6-foot distance when in the presence of personnel performing these essential services.

Sheriff’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor

  • Residents are asked to call and make an appointment to speak with a deputy or detective regarding a non-emergent matter, to speak to administrative staff or about all concealed weapon permit applications. Appointments can be made by calling 406-258-4810. 
  • Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has resumed fingerprint services. Fingerprinting will be offered by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday of each week from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 406-258-4810. Individuals with an appointment will be required to check their temperature, ensuring a temperature reading below 100.4, prior to completing the fingerprint process. Masks will be required. Hand washing and hand sanitizer will be provided upon completion of the process.  
  • For Civil Process, please call 406-258-4802. 
  • During an emergency, always dial 9-1-1. 

Superintendent of Schools, 410 W. Spruce St.

  • Office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though office hours may vary due to limited staffing.
  • Public is encouraged to make appointments, use the drop box or mail correspondence.
  • Masks are required to enter the building.
  • There is a limit of one person at a time due to the small size of the reception area.  

Weed District and Extension Office, 2825 Santa Fe Court 

  • Office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though office hours may vary due to limited staffing.
  • There is a limit of two people at a time due to the small reception area and members or the public are strongly encouraged to call 406-258-4200 to make an appointment with the staff member they wish to visit.
  • Masks are required to enter the building.
  • Call with questions regarding programs or events.

Public Encouraged to Comment on Draft Plan to Advance County, City Clean Electricity Goal

Missoula County and the City of Missoula today released a draft Implementation Plan that identifies collaborative projects to advance the city and county’s goal of 100% clean electricity for the Missoula urban area by 2030.

The city and county developed the plan with NorthWestern Energy in accordance with a memorandum of understanding signed by the three entities last year. The draft plan includes several projects to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in the state. Among these are the development of a “green tariff,” which will give NorthWestern Energy customers the choice to purchase power from newly developed solar or wind farms; a community solar project in the Missoula area; and pilots of new rate structures that have the potential to facilitate the transition to a clean, modern electric grid.

The county and city invite input from the public on the draft plan. The document is available for review at https://www.engagemissoula.com/missoulas-100-clean-electricity-initiative. Comments on the draft plan are requested by 5 p.m. Monday, March 1. There will be an additional opportunity for public comment once the plan is scheduled for consideration at a meeting of the city council and board of county commissioners.

“Our 100% clean electricity goal was driven by our obligation to address climate change in order to protect our public health, safety and quality of life in Missoula County,” Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said. “This Implementation Plan is an essential step toward that goal.”

The county and city jointly established the goal of 100% clean electricity in 2019, and subsequently signed an MOU with NorthWestern Energy committing the three entities to work together to pursue that goal. The MOU also committed the three entities to develop an Implementation Plan and to report on progress annually.

All the projects identified in the plan will require the collaborative efforts of NorthWestern Energy, Missoula County, the City of Missoula and other stakeholders, and some will also require approval by the Montana Public Service Commission.

“The projects identified in this plan have great potential to accelerate the shift to a cleaner electric grid,” Missoula City Council President Bryan von Lossberg said. “However, they aren’t enough on their own, to reach 100% clean electricity. We look forward to advancing these projects with NorthWestern Energy while also actively seeking additional partners and opportunities to achieve our goal.”

Missoula County, Missoula, Bozeman and Helena Partner in 100% Clean Electricity Effort

Missoula County, the City of Missoula, the City of Bozeman and the City of Helena this week entered into an interlocal agreement pledging to pursue a green tariff to advance their shared clean energy goals. Over the past two years, all four local governments have adopted resolutions committing to 100% clean electricity by 2030. 

The interlocal agreement authorizes the four local governments to jointly hire a consultant with technical expertise in green tariffs and utility rate design to work collaboratively with NorthWestern Energy and inform the development of a green tariff that most effectively advances the local governments’ 100% clean electricity goals. All four local governments had previously allocated funds in their FY21 budgets to support this effort. 

A green tariff is not a tax. Rather, it is a mechanism by which customers of regulated utilities have the option to buy power from newly developed renewable energy sources through a special rate (or “tariff”) on their utility bills. In 2019, the Montana Public Service Commission directed NorthWestern Energy to initiate a stakeholder process to explore the development of a green tariff. This stakeholder process is currently underway, and Missoula County and the cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Helena are participating in it.  

The Missoula City Council approved the interlocal agreement on Feb. 1; the Bozeman City Commission on Feb. 2; the Missoula Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 4; and the Helena City Commission on Feb. 8. 

Elected officials from all four local governments expressed enthusiasm for the partnership. 

Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier: “We’re so pleased to be partnering with the cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Helena. The green tariff is an important step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step. I look forward to our partnership continuing beyond this interlocal agreement as we continue to pursue our shared 100% clean electricity goals.” 

Missoula City Council President Bryan von Lossberg: “It is eminently clear that Montanans value clean energy. And anyone looking forward sees we have the innovative expertise and resources to meet that vision. We invite other communities to join our collaborative effort to build the statewide energy portfolio Montana’s future demands.”  

Bozeman City Commissioner Terry Cunningham: “Bozeman’s ability to meet its stated goals is dependent upon a rapid transition to renewable energy sources by the utility. Together, our communities represent about a quarter of NorthWestern’s customers, and this partnership is our best chance to exert the collective influence that will be required to facilitate this transition.”  

Helena City Commissioner Sean Logan: “This agreement represents a novel and promising approach to advancing clean energy in Montana. We are optimistic that this historic collaboration between the communities and NorthWestern Energy will deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the citizens of our state.” 

Appointments to Open Online, By Phone on Thursday for Next Public Vaccine Clinic

The Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Team, in partnership with the University of Montana, will hold another public vaccination clinic from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, at UM’s Adams Center. 

Approximately 800 first-dose vaccine appointments will be available, and individuals who meet Phase 1b, Tier 1 criteria can make an appointment starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. The link to make an appointment will be available on the Vaccine Information page at covid19.missoula.co.  

About 20% of the appointments will be reserved for those without Internet access or who are not proficient online. People can call 406-258-INFO to schedule an appointment over the phone starting at 1 p.m. Organizers request that people who have the ability to schedule online make an appointment on the website instead of calling so the call center can help those most in need of assistance.  

This clinic is free, regardless of whether people have health insurance. However, people who do have health insurance should bring a copy of their insurance card as insurance will be billed an administrative fee to help cover costs associated with the clinic. This fee will not result in an out-of-pocket cost to insured people. Those who make appointments can ensure the process goes smoothly by taking the following steps:  

  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment to give yourself enough time to park and walk to the Adams Center. 
  • Park in Lot P or Gym Lot (these lots are reserved for the vaccination clinic and you will not have to pay for parking). 
  • Enter the Adams Center five minutes before your appointment. 
  • If possible, bring a COPY of your insurance card (staff will be able to make a copy for you if you do not have a copier). 
  • Print and bring your COMPLETED paperwork titled “Screening Questionnaire for COVID-19 Vaccine.” 
  • Wear loose clothing. Short sleeves are helpful, but not required. 

Be prepared to wait the REQUIRED 15 minutes AFTER your vaccination to monitor for adverse reactions. Should you have an adverse reaction, medical staff will be present to assist. 

The Vaccine Coordination Team is also working to plan vaccine clinics in outlying areas of Missoula County. Details on those clinics will be announced when they’re confirmed.  

Several area healthcare providers also continue to administer vaccine as supply allows, and people can find information on their provider at covid19.missoula.co or by calling 406-258-INFO. Residents can help providers by refraining from calling them directly and using the website instead. 

Missoula County has more than two dozen vaccine providers registered to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. However, availability of vaccine continues to be the limiting factor to getting more residents vaccinated. The vaccine scarcity is not unique to Missoula County or to Montana; the shortage is nationwide. Health department leaders continue to advocate for more doses at every opportunity. While we wait, they encourage people to continue to take the standard precautions against transmission of the virus: masking, social distancing, washing hands and keeping their social circles small.  

The Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Team is managed by the Western Montana All Hazard Incident Management Team under the Office of Emergency Management. The team formed in January at the request of the Missoula County commissioners and the mayor of Missoula to coordinate the distribution of vaccine in Missoula County. The team aims to reduce public anxiety by providing timely, accurate information and to identify and address barriers to administering the vaccine to all who wish to receive it. 

Agencies to Host Listening Session on Temporary Safe Outdoor Space

The local agencies and organizations that have partnered to stand up Missoula’s Temporary Safe Outdoor Space will hold a listening session this week to share how the project is going and to answer questions and address any concerns from community members.

The virtual forum will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, via Microsoft Teams. Members of the public and news media can join the session using the following information:

Microsoft Teams meeting
Click here to join the meeting on your computer or mobile app
Or call in (audio only) +1 406-272-4824
Phone Conference ID: 940 454 833#

The listening session will feature Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of United Way of Missoula County; Eric Legvold, director of impact at United Way; Jim Hicks, executive director of Hope Rescue Mission; and April Seat, the Mission’s director of outreach. County officials, including the three commissioners, will also attend the forum and answer questions as needed.

The TSOS is a safe, healthy, secure area on private land, staffed 24/7, that is currently supporting 24 unsheltered people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being offered during the public health emergency because no local providers of food, shelter or services are able to operate at full capacity. It is a project of United Way and Hope Rescue Mission with logistical support through Missoula County.

Since the space opened in mid-December on private land just south of Missoula, staff have already helped TSOS residents connect to regular case management services; acquire identification documents, such as photo IDs and birth certificates, that are often needed to secure housing and employment; and obtain employment, housing or housing vouchers. Officials will provide more details on TSOS operations during the listening session.

The costs to set up the temporary space are being reimbursed through federal CARES Act money, so no local taxpayer dollars are involved. United Way and Hope Rescue Mission continue to seek additional funding to sustain the site through the end of the county’s emergency declaration adopted last March in response to the pandemic. An FAQ about the project can be found online at missoula.co/tsos.