Posted: Jul 13, 2012 5:35 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Jul 14, 2012 8:49 AM
HAMILTON- Ravalli County leaders gave tentative approval to funding the purchase and planning for a new public site on the banks of the Bitterroot River earlier this week, but commissioners want details worked out before writing any checks.
The Tabor family dreamed of preserving the 22-acre area in its natural state for years and now, the Bitter Root Land Trust is trying to achieve that, by taking ownership using donations and specialized funds.
Acquiring the beautiful piece of riverfront property was just part of the process and now, the Bitter Root Land Trust has to put together a plan for public use.
Trust leaders asked county commissioners to release $35,000 from the open space program earlier this week, a step already by an advisory committee.
Commissioners liked the concept, but want a detailed management plan, with ownership transferred to the City of Hamilton.
"I'd like to see a preliminary plan," said Ravalli County Commissioner J.R. Iman. "You know, give us an idea. You've physically talked twice today about a general plan."
Iman wants access issues resolved ahead of time, including what do to about the Corvallis Canal Company's headgate and diversion structure on the river, which is the oldest water right on the Bitterroot.
Gavin Ricklefs, the land trust's executive director, said he agreed, and called the effort a "great conservation project."
"...Making sure everybody's interests are covered, both the adjacent private landowners, certainly the wildlife that live there on the property and the ultimate public users that are going to be able to go down there and enjoy the place," Ricklefs said.
The land trust will meet with the city and hammer out ownership details in the next few weeks, and then develop a plan.
"Being right there along the river, being able to provide a walking path for everybody in this community, everybody who visits this community to really connect with the lifeblood of the valley, the Bitterroot River is, that's what we're excited about," Ricklefs said. "Trying to make sure that amenity is here and available for future generations."
The land won't be open to the public until those plans are complete.