Changes in eligibility for state leaseholders near Seeley Lake

SEELEY LAKE – Representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation informed state leaseholders about changes to their eligibility to participate in the cabin and home site sales program at a meeting April 4 at the Seeley Lake Community Hall. Recently resolved road easement issues opened the door for leaseholders in three area neighborhoods to participate in the lease site sales program.

The neighborhoods, as labeled by the DNRC, include Clearwater River East Shore (Dogtown, accessed via Grizzly Drive), Clearwater River West Shore (accessed off Riverview Drive downstream from the Dogtown Bridge) and Morrell Creek (off Cottonwood Lakes Road near Morrell Creek).

The cabin and home site sales program was authorized by the Montana Legislature in 2013. The DNRC began selling sites in 2015 with a limit of 40 sales per year across the state. Since 2015 there have been approximately 50 sites sold in the Seeley Lake area.Nearly half of them sold were located along the shore of the Clearwater River between the Dogtown Bridge and the outlet of the lake.

DNRC Real Estate Sales Specialist Renee Kelley said that the DNRC has received more than 200 requests for sale each year. Those must be narrowed down to 40 each year. To narrow the requests down the DNRC looks at each site to determine that it meets a number of criteria including if a clear title can be produced.

The DNRC has worked to correct or verify legal access for each of these neighborhoods. After the meeting, DNRC Clearwater Unit Manager Kristen Baker-Dickinson explained that access on Cottonwood Lakes Road was verified but landowners will still be limited to seasonal use for wheeled vehicles by the US Forest Service.

The Clearwater River West properties, that are accessed off Rivers Edge Lane, had an issue where the lane turns off Riverview Drive. Baker-Dickinson explained that the current primary road cuts the corner of some private property but legal access through a secondary road exists. An easement will not be sought through the private property.

An easement for Grizzly Drive was purchased from a private landowner and the roadway moved to the new easement. Baker-Dickinson explained that the DNRC was trying to work with Missoula County to resume road maintenance but an agreement could not be reached. Grizzly Drive, Claw Lane and Cub Lane will have to continue to be maintained by the residents of that area.

With the legal access being secured for these three neighborhoods, properties are now eligible to participate but must still meet other site-specific conditions such as being current on the lease conditions and payments.

To participate, leaseholders must fill out a “Request for Sale” during the solicitation period in the fall of 2019. Leaseholders will receive the form and information though the mail in August.

Once the number of requests is narrowed down to 40, those sites and the improvements on them are appraised separately. The appraised values can be challenged by the leaseholder.

The appraised value of the land, with no improvements, becomes the minimum bid price and the property is scheduled for a public auction. Anyone can bid on the property but must register and place a five percent bid deposit 20 days ahead of the auction. Kelley said it has been rare that there are bidders other than the leaseholders, however, it can happen.

If for any reason the leaseholder chooses, they can cancel the auction up to 10 days before the scheduled date.

If the winning bidder is not the current leaseholder or owner of the improvements, they must purchase those improvements at the appraised value as part of the sale.

For complete information on the cabin and home site sales process or auctions contact Kelley at 406-444-4289 or email


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