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.

Missoula County Awards $46,000 in Grants to Community Centers and Parks

Residents throughout Missoula County will soon enjoy additional community center and outdoor recreation opportunities thanks to $46,000 in matching grants offered by Missoula County’s Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program

Grant funding requests represent the importance of community activities and the priority of shared resources throughout Missoula County. The Seeley Lake Lions Club, stewards of Missoula County’s Clearwater Park that has amenities including a skating pond, walking path and a picnic pavilion, will receive $16,988 to put in a playground, new benches, picnic tables, plantings and other improvements. 

The Potomac-Greenough Community Center will receive $10,365 to purchase a pre-K play structure for their playground. The remainder of the funds will be used for padding in the Potomac Greenough Community center gym, which is the primary recreation complex for the community.  

In Lolo, Travelers’ Rest State Park will receive $8,500 to construct an accessible spur trail, which will link the Bitterroot Trail to the park grounds and will include permanent art installations along the trail.  

Five other grants, which range from $1,300 to $2,700, will help fund maintenance projects to improve parks, trails and recreation areas through the Parks and Trails Matching Grants Program. They will help partner organizations fund the following projects in 2021:   

  • $1,369 to remove barbed-wire fencing and install new perimeter fencing at the Nine Mile Community Center (Nine Mile Community Center). 
  • $1,814 to help replace the roof on the picnic pavilion at the West Riverside Community Park (Friends of Two Rivers). 
  • $1,833 to help remove the volleyball court area and replace it with turf at Kelsey Park in Miller Creek (Upper Linda Vista HOA).  
  • $2,500 for site improvements, memorial plaques, a sheltered kiosk and a protective display at the Seeley Lake Veterans Memorial (Veterans and Families of Seeley Lake). 
  • $2,700 to expand and enhance the Seeley Lake Community Skating Rink by purchasing lights, lumber and a fire hose (Seeley Lake ROCKS).  

“While our grant partners have certainly felt impacts from COVID-19, we are encouraged by the large amount of applications received this year,” Parks and Trails Coordinator John Stegmaier said. “All signs point to communities across the county recognizing the importance of their recreation facilities and a willingness to spearhead improvement projects.”  

The Parks and Trails Matching Grant Program leverages partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups to maintain county parks and other public recreation areas. In these partnerships, the Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program provides planning assistance and funding, while the partner organization matches those funds through a combination of project expenses, in-kind donations and volunteer service hours.  

Community and Planning Services moving to new location

New CAPS office
The new Community and Planning Services office will be located at 127 E. Main St., Suite 2, in the Radio Central Building in downtown Missoula. 

Residents looking for information from the Missoula County Community and Planning Services department should expect delays in service and correspondence over the next week or so while the office moves to a new location.

The department will set up shop at 127 E. Main St., Suite 2, in the Radio Central Building in downtown Missoula. Staff will begin moving in on Monday, Feb. 11, with the move expected to be completed by the end of the week.

Staff in the three CAPS divisions – Grants and Community Programs, Planning, and Parks, Trails and Open Lands – provide planning, permitting, community development, and parks and trails management services to Missoula County residents. The office sees considerable foot traffic, around 150 visitors a month, mainly from residents with questions on land use planning and permitting, floodplain administration, rezoning and subdivision projects, sustainability, and the county’s parks and trails.

Services at the department’s popular Planning Information Desk will likely be interrupted on Monday. Residents who need information should email zoner@missoulacounty.us for faster service.

Staff phone numbers and email addresses will not change, and the department’s mailing address will remain 200 W. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802. Staff phone lines will be down during the transition, but they will still be available via email.

Visitors should note that parking is somewhat limited at the new location. The public can park for free for one hour at the nearby Park Place and Roam parking garages, located a block away on Front Street. A Mountain Line bus stop also is located nearby.

CAPS staff thank you for your patience as they get settled into their new space!

New leadership on horizon for Community and Planning Services

The new year brings with it new leadership for the Community and Planning Services department, affectionately known as CAPS here at Missoula County.

After a decades-long career with the county, including the last seven as chief planning officer, Pat O’Herren is hanging up his hat at the end of the year. During his tenure, O’Herren built partnerships with other agencies, nonprofits and private property owners, helping Missoula County evolve as a leader in protecting and enhancing our cultural, economic and conservation resources. He’ll leave some pretty big shoes to fill.

Chet Crowser
Chet Crowser

Stepping into those shoes will be Chet Crowser. Crowser comes to Missoula County from Fish, Wildlife and Parks, where he served as the regional parks manager for Montana State Parks in Missoula. He’s well-known for his leadership skills – just ask anyone who’s had him as a boss – and that’s exactly why county commissioners chose him to fill the role.

“As CAPS evolves to focus more on broad community issues and services, we are thrilled to bring on someone with Chet’s relationship-building skills and knowledge of the public engagement process,” Commissioner Nicole “Cola” Rowley says. “We’re confident Chet will provide the leadership necessary to successfully guide the department as it fulfills the many roles it plays in our communities.”

Those roles include land-use planning, zoning, parks and trails management, and grant administration, just to name a few. Engaging a leader who can manage such a diverse array of responsibilities is key.

Having worked in a variety of city, state and federal recreation programs throughout the West, including his experience overseeing 10 state parks while at Montana FWP, Chet has an extensive background in parks management. He’s also participated in many planning, visioning and policy-development efforts while with the agency, and he looks forward to bringing this experience to CAPS.

“I’m excited to join CAPS and take part in the great work that staff do every day to maintain and enhance the quality of life we all value so much in Missoula County,” Crowser says. “I look forward to working with the commissioners, county staff, partners and the public to address the important issues our communities face now and into the future.”

A new boss isn’t the only change in store for CAPS in 2019: The department will soon move from its current building on West Alder Street to a new location at 127 E. Main St., Suite 2. That transition is expected to take place in mid- to late January.