Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Colleen Kesterson

Candidates Respond, More Information Needed on Wild and Scenic

Swan Valley Community Council Council


SWAN VALLEY - Three candidates running for two vacant Swan Valley Community Council (SVCC) seats spoke and responded to a question during the SVCC regular meeting Tuesday, April 19. The Swan River’s eligibility to become a Wild and Scenic River under the Wild and Scenic Act of 1968 was also discussed.

Candidates Elda (Ellie) Greenough, Lacey McNutt and Henry S. Westra spoke about why they were qualified to win a seat on the SVCC.

Greenough moved to the Swan Valley in 1978 from the Midwest where she was raised on a farm. She has held many jobs in the valley including log home oiling and cleaning, working in the carpentry shop of a log home building company, cook, waitress and driving school bus. She was the postmaster relief for nearly 20 years and was appointed Postmaster in 2005. She assisted her late husband with logging, site and road preparation or any job that required their chainsaw, tractor or dump truck. Greenough would like to see the valley keep its uniqueness. She would like to help use sensible management of resources, education and research so that families can stay in the valley and make a living here.

Lacey McNutt has lived in the Swan Valley for nearly ten years. She came from Helena as a fifth generation Montanan to work for an outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. A licensed real estate professional, she volunteers with the Swan Valley Emergency Services and serves on the Swan Valley PTA. McNutt would like to see more jobs available so that more people can remain here and enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities that the valley offers. She is proud to be part of the community where her husband and son live, work and play.

Henry S. Westra purchased land in the Swan Valley in early 1990 and traveled back and forth from Michigan until 2013 when he and his wife became full-time residents in the valley. He was a Certified Medical Group Practice Administrator. He served as President of the Michigan Medical Group Management Association where he aided in legislation at the state level. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and a Master of Science in accountancy. Currently he serves on the Swan Valley Community Foundation and Condon Community Church treasurer. He appreciates that Missoula County has local advisory councils to aid with communication to the rural areas. He would like to strengthen that communication by representing the residents of the valley and being a part of the completion of the Swan Valley Regional Plan.

The candidates answered the following question from the SVCC board member Dwayne Forder: Do you understand the powers and limitations of the SVCC?

Westra: “After reading the SVCC by-laws, I understand that the SVCC is a conduit for communication to the Board of County Commissioners. There is not a lot of authority granted. The council can make no laws.”

Greenough: “I am aware that the council is not governmental. I would like to help the council continue with what it is doing. It provides information and sources of information. It educates the community on issues that faces it.”

McNutt: “I agree with other candidates. The council is a sounding board that helps educate the community. It communicates with the county. The role of the council is not to make decisions, rules or laws.”

SVCC member Marcia Tapp said that representatives are not here to “rubber stamp” what the county says. “Speak up if it is wrong for us. We have to have a voice.”

Greenough said, “We [residents] certainly need to voice our opinions loudly, clearly and often.”

According to resident and Missoula County Elections Council member Larry Dunham, Swan Valley residents can mail in their voted ballot before Election Day May 3 or it can be dropped off at the Swan Valley Elementary School on May 3.

In other business, the possible Wild and Scenic designation for the Swan River was discussed. Representatives from Montanans for Healthy Rivers coalition spoke to the council on March 15 about the designation made possible by the Wild and Scenic Act of 1968 which protects eligible rivers from having a dam built on them. The Forest Service would manage the river and the quarter mile corridor on each side if the designation is allowed.

Chair Donovan wanted to know if the community would be interested in either promoting or opposing the designation.

Board members and those present agreed that more information was needed to make an informed decision.

SVCC member Cilla Moseley said the council needs to present facts on both sides of the issue. “We need to have someone who has lived with it and can tell us what kind of impact it has had on them.” She said that the council needed to hear from the Forest Service perspective.

The SVCC voted to hold a town hall meeting when speakers can be confirmed from all sides of the issue. The speakers would answer questions from Swan Valley residents about the Wild and Scenic designation of the Swan River.

Donovan said, “The SVCC would go to the county with the consensus of the community.”

Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee Chair Moseley updated the SVCC on the status of the regional plan. She said that the revisions of the plan draft are available to view on Revisions will be attached to the meeting’s minutes in which they were revised.

The next SVCC meeting is Tuesday, May 17 at the Swan Valley Community Hall at 7 p.m.


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