I commend the Missoula County Planning Board for tackling the Seeley Lake Land Use Plan. Please don't give up.
This vast, complex plan has been years in the making. It has involved a variety of stakeholders, from the "haves" to the "have-nots." Is it possible for all these interests across such a large landscape to agree on minutia? No. But this brave plan is designed to be a broad-brush representation of what we all value, no matter what side of the fence or end of the pipe we occupy. This plan is not, and never will be, perfect but it is what we desire for the future of the Clearwater watershed: maintain our economic viability, protect natural resources, keep development close to existing infrastructure and celebrate what is loved.
The planning board appears painfully frustrated so I recommend that they eschew the rabbit hole of site-by-site zoning. The plan needs to go forward because the intent is agreed upon and clear. Zoning, while based on the plan, is an entirely different action. It's not possible to plan and zone concurrently.
Zoning is the best, most flexible land-use tool presently available with which we can preserve our values. The Clearwater watershed includes some of the most ecologically significant land in Missoula County - in fact, some of the most significant on the planet. Even Newsweek (July 29) ran a prescient climate change article based in Seeley Lake. There are less than a dozen intact eco-regions left on Earth, and we live in the southern portion of one known as the Crown of the Continent. We're responsible for something way beyond ourselves in the Clearwater watershed and this plan speaks to it.
Juanita Vero, Greenough
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