Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A joint City-County Urban Avalanche Response Team has informally designated February as “Missoula Urban Avalanche Awareness Month”.

With that in mind, KGVO’s City Talk Program hosted Adriane Beck, Director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, and City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Conservation Lands Program Manager Jeff Gicklhorn.

How Mount Jumbo was Acquired by the City of Missoula

Gicklhorn provided details about the iconic Mount Jumbo.

“In 1987 the community came together to purchase Mount Jumbo, and there was a recognition that we have this really wild landscape right next to town, and we need to do what we can as a community to help protect that,” began Gicklhorn. “It's actually enshrined in city ordinance that we have a seasonal wildlife closure, depending on which part of the mountain you're looking at from December 1, either through mid to late March or through May 1, and that's put in place primarily to protect the wintering elk herd where 85 to 100 elk overwinter on Mount Jumbo each year.”

New to Missoula? Here's How to Find Mount Jumbo

For those new to Missoula, Gicklhorn provided a brief description of the area.

“Mount Jumbo is in the northeast side of the valley,” He said. “It's on the east side of the Rattlesnake Valley and just north of Hellgate Canyon. You can pretty much see Mount Jumbo from anywhere in the valley bottom, with few exceptions. It's open generally, from late spring and there are various opening times either in late March or May 1 through December or December 1, so we close for the winter season on December 1.”

Gicklhorn explained how the people of Missoula came together to acquire the open space areas.

“The community came together through a number of open space bonds to purchase most of these properties, and we want to recognize the fact that those values that were originally identified, should be conserved, right?” he said. “So whether or not it's the elk herd and their habitat on Mount Jumbo, or any of the other extremely pristine landscapes we have around the valley that those need to be conserved. So whether or not its weed mitigation, or for a winter wildlife closure, or let's say closure of a user created Recreation Trail, any of those actions really help us protect the natural values that occur on those properties.”

Wait! Why Can't I Bring my Dog to Mount Jumbo at Certain Times?

One question that arose regarding Mount Jumbo and the North Hills concerned the times that dogs are not allowed in the area.

“Where we have a dog closure in place where humans can go, but we're asking that you don't bring your dog for a short period of time, that's to protect elk,” he said. “Last year, we had an additional dog closure because we were bringing sheep back to graze on non native weeds on the North Hills and now Jumbo. The reason why we had a dog closure for actually a relatively short period of time was that in order to protect the sheep from natural predators, we have a guard dog, and that guard dog is trained to attack any other potential predator including domestic dogs.”

Get details about the Urban Avalanche and frequently asked questions below.

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