By Nathan Bourne

Council Discusses Dogtown Snow Plowing, Traffic and Fairgrounds


SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Community Council (SLCC) voted to send a letter requesting the Missoula County Commissioners expedite a solution to the issue of snow plowing in Dogtown.

Also at the meeting, representatives from the county presented the latest plans for the fairgrounds in Missoula and the council was updated on the progress of their proposed safety improvements on Highway 83.

During public comments it was asked, what has been done to resolve the snow plowing issue in Dogtown.

The issue came to light last summer when Missoula County Public Works informed residents on Grizzly Drive and Cub Lane that the county would no longer maintain those roads because they are on state land.

Residents have since been caught in the middle with the county on one side and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) on the other.

The county claims that they cannot, by law, spend county road fund money on roads they don’t have an easement on. The DNRC, which manages the state land, is claiming, by law, the county should have to purchase an easement for fair market value.

Last winter private donors, including the Seeley Lake Community Foundation, stepped up with funding to cover the cost to keep the residents plowed out.

Council Chairman Klaus von Stutterheim said he had recently contacted the county about the issue and said it didn’t look like it will be resolved any time soon.

Von Stutterheim said private funders that helped out last year could be asked again but it really just needs to be resolved.

The council agreed that the issue needs to be put back on the burner and will invite DNRC and Missoula County representatives to one of the next council meetings. The council also voted to send a letter to the county commissioners urging them to find a solution before winter hits again.

Jerry Marks from the Missoula County Extension office and Chris Lounsbury from the county commissioners’ office presented the latest concept for future development of the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

The concept for the approximately 46 acres fairgrounds has been in the works for several years.

One issue they faced was how to keep animals, equipment and spectators separate for the different events the fairgrounds hosts. For instance, the current layout has the equipment needed to maintain the rodeo on the opposite side of the fairgrounds, meaning it must travel though the crowd when it’s needed.

Parking has been another issue along with how animals are moved in and out of the fairgrounds and buildings. Lounsbury explained that they worked with the various groups to try and accommodate their needs. The new layout attempts to correct these issues.

The plan would keep the historic buildings that are on the fairgrounds including the culinary, commercial and home arts buildings. The current space for youth hockey would also be maintained.

When asked how much the concept would cost and how it would be paid for, Lounsbury explained that this would most likely be done in phases and the cost hasn’t been calculated. The concept is only planning spaces for where future buildings would be built not designing the buildings themselves.

There is no schedule for when the fairgrounds would be fully built but Lounsbury estimated 10 to 15 years.

Marks tackled the question if horse racing is included in the plans. Marks said it has been discussed extensively and that it is not in the new concept. It is too expensive to maintain versus how much revenue it generated. The racetrack also took up too much space to fit all the other facilities without moving the fairgrounds to a new location.

A copy of the concept can be found on the fairgrounds website:

Public comment closes July 27 and can be emailed to

Chairman von Stutterheim gave the update on the council’s Highway 83 traffic safety improvements proposal. Von Stutterheim and council member Duane Schlabach met with Montana Transportation Commissioner Daniel Belcourt in Seeley Lake.

At the meeting, von Stutterheim and Schlabach agreed to back down on trying to get the speed reduced quite so far out of town as was originally proposed. They felt that the commission wouldn’t go for lowering the speed limits south past Poverty Flats and north to Base Camp Bar.

Von Stutterheim said Belcourt would like to see the council and the local Montana Department of Transportation come to an agreement. If that doesn’t happen, it will have to be resolved by the transportation commission.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for July 28, 8:30 a.m. in Miles City. It would be close to a seven-hour drive one way. Von Stutterheim feels it will be difficult for Missoula County officials who support the plan to attend, let alone any interested citizens.

Von Stutterheim suggested that they might ask for it to be tabled again in hopes the September meeting is close enough to be more reasonable to attend.

The next SLCC meeting is scheduled for Aug. 8, 6 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Historical Museum & Visitors Center. Snacks and beverages will be provided starting at 5:30 p.m.


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