MISSOULA — West Broadway Island, which the City of Missoula had hoped would become a popular riverfront park but instead has attracted illegal campers, will be temporarily closed.
City officials say that starting Thursday, the island will be closed for about six weeks to address public health and safety concerns through clean-up and mitigation.
The island was renovated in 2019 as a family-friendly urban natural area, but instead, according to the city, the pandemic led the area to attract people living outdoors, who don't have a place to go. The recent closure of the emergency winter shelter and reduced capacity at the Poverello Center has contributed to the camping on the island, according to the city.
Missoula Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler says they’ll work on a number of projects once river levels subside.
"There are a number of birds on the island who are fledging or nesting, we’re going to let those things happen, we’re going to deal with some noxious weeds as soon as the water recedes, we’re going to try to stop and reduce the erosion routes that are appearing, and then we want to completely stop illegal behavior that generates undesirable results," Gaukler explained.
City staff and local partners are working on identifying safe areas for camping near the city.