CFAC has worked for the past decade to protect and preserve Missoula County’s most vital agricultural soils. CFAC’s mission is to build a strong local food and farm economy in Western Montana, built upon the availability of farmers to access fertile soil in which to grow healthy foods, and eaters’ ability to put that good food on their tables.
From its inception, Missoula earned its moniker “The Garden City” due to the many truck farms and large-scale gardens that provided a majority of the food that we ate. While much of the farming infrastructure disappeared in the 60’s, due in large part to outside economic and agricultural trends, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in growing and sourcing our food from within this region, from farms close to our urban core.
While there is much to celebrate in this growth of ag in our community, there are also many challenges. In the face of rapid population growth and increased residential development that we see every day, most especially along our urban fringe, one of the biggest hurdles is saving fertile soils. These challenges have made the issue of farmland and local food a major topic of public discourse in the past several years.
Both the City’s and County’s Growth plans identify the preservation of agricultural land as essential to our health as a community. Agricultural lands are a vital part of the larger open space matrix we all enjoy – recreational river access, wildlife corridors, clean air and water, extensive hiking and biking trails, and rural neighborhoods with active family farms.
In recent years, CFAC has advocated for policies at the county and state level that protect agricultural lands through zoning and subdivision regulation. We have participated in several city and county planning processes to create predictability in the subdivision process and preserve productive land to protect the future of rural livelihoods for family farms and ranches. CFAC has consistently advocated for a suite of tools, which include both regulatory and voluntary measures. Both are needed and effective.
Missoula now has the opportunity to support a $15 million County Open Space Bond along with a $500,000 mil levy for stewardship of our city conservation lands on the November ballot. These funds will help ensure that our vital natural resources, including agricultural soils, will be conserved for our future.
Please plan to attend these two public hearings to show your support of the Open Space Bond and accompanying mil levy:
- City Council: Monday, June 25, 7pm City Council Chambers, 140 W Pine
- Board of County Commissioners: Monday, July 9, 9am 200 W Broadway, room 151 Annex.
Additionally, CFAC has participated in the Missoula Area Mapping Project, a public process that will help guide future development and growth. There have been several public workshops recently, and the map is now online. Please take the time to review the map and provide your input regarding growth and conservation.