Missoula Open Space Bond Receives National Endorsement

Outdoor Industry Association: Open Space Investment Will Conserve Public Land, Water and Habitat

For Immediate Release: October 24, 2018

Contact: Julie Gardner, (406)239-1848, juliegardnerproperties@gmail.com

Missoula, Mont. – The Missoula County Open Space Bond was one of five state and local ballot measures around the country to receive the endorsement of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) on Tuesday. OIA has over 1300 members across the country, and almost 50 in Montana, who contribute to the 71,000 direct jobs, $2.2 billion in wages and salaries, and $286 million in state and local tax revenue that account for the outdoor recreation economy in Montana.

According to OIA, Montana generates more than $7 billion in annual outdoor recreation spending, and passage of the Open Space Bond will enhance that by “conserving, enjoying and enhancing open-space land, to include providing public access to water and land; conserving agricultural lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and rivers, lakes and streams; protecting scenic views; and improving lands acquired or designated as open space that are accessible to the public.”

“Missoula is defined, in large part, by terrific trail networks, easy access to rivers and mountains, open space, and working farms and ranches,” said David Weinstein, OIA’s state and local policy director. “This bond builds on the investments Missoula County has made in the past, to ensure continued access to the lands and waters that enhance Missoula’s quality of life and drive Montana’s thriving recreation economy.”

OIA joins more than 500 Missoula County citizens, community leaders, businesses and organizations who have endorsed the proposed bond and levy. Included among the supporters are local businesses like The Big Dipper, The Trailhead, and Mamalode, as well as numerous Missoula-based organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Conservation Voters and the Missoula Downtown Association. 

“We’re excited to see such broad and diverse support for renewing our county’s commitment to protecting open space, important farmland, and access to rivers and trails,” said Julie Gardner, treasurer of the ballot committee and a local real estate agent. “Missoula County is facing unprecedented growth right now, and I think people understand how important it is to protect important land and water for future generations.”

In July, the Missoula County Commissioners unanimously approved a citizen-initiated request to place a $15 million open space bond on the November ballot, and the city added a $500,000 stewardship levy to that request. Together, the open space measures will add about $2.00 per month to property taxes on a $200,000 home in the city. Outside the city, the bond will add $1.15 per month to the taxes on a similar-valued home.

If approved by voters on November 6, the open space measures could provide funds to secure projects like permanent river access at Buckhouse Bridge and near Frenchtown, the Mount Dean Stone conservation project, and fund other important conservation opportunities as they arise. All open space proposals would be reviewed by citizen advisory committees and local governments prior to the expenditure of funds. Past voter-approved open space bond funds have, on average, leveraged four dollars in private, state or federal matching funds for every local dollar of bond revenue spent.

Absentee ballots are due back in the Elections Office by 8pm on November 6 – Election Day. They can be mailed or dropped off at the County Courthouse or the Elections Center at the County Fairgrounds where there is a secure, 24-hour drop-off box. Voters with questions about ballots or voting can contact the Elections Office at 258-4751 or visit MissoulaVotes.com. 

To join the endorsement list, learn more about the open space bond and stewardship levy, visit www.YesForOpenSpace.org.