Plan calls for cabins, equipment rentals in Stillwater Forest

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The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is taking comments on a proposal by Northwest Montana Adventures to develop 6.5 acres of state land near Olney to be used for rental cabins and outdoor equipment rentals.

In January the Stillwater Unit of the DNRC released a request for proposals for a commercial lease and received two proposals. Northwest Montana Adventures, formerly known as Winter Wonderland Sports, was determined as the successful applicant and now the DNRC is in the scoping phase of the company’s proposal.

Northwest Montana Adventures, based in Olney, currently offers seasonal snowmobiles and equipment rentals. The company has an existing land use license with the DNRC to operate guided and unguided snowmobile tours on the Stillwater State Forest, and a special recreation use license to rent and operate guided and unguided all-terrain vehicle and utility vehicle tours.

The company is looking to lease a 6.5 acre parcel of land near the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and Upper Whitefish Road on the Stillwater State Forest.

“The proposed use for this property would be the base to grow their existing business,” according to the initial proposal by the DNRC. “The proposal includes expansion to a year-round, full-service recreation equipment and rental business for both tourists and the local community.”

The plan calls for eight portable cabins, above ground fuel for recreation and equipment use, maintenance buildings and a shop containing storage, bathrooms, office space and a gift shop. A storage building for the Flathead Snowmobile Association’s groomer is also planned.

Sustainable development features such as the use of solar panels would be implemented throughout the site, according to the DNRC.

The company plans to expand their summer outdoor equipment rentals to include, kayaks, boats and camping equipment.

The minimum commercial lease fee for the first year for the 6.5 acres was posted in the request for proposals as $3,120 and is based on the appraised land value.

The DNRC is required to administer state trust lands “to produce the largest measure of reasonable and legitimate return over the long run” for the benefit of state schools in the trust.

If leased, the financial return to the trust would be based on 4% annual fee based on land value, as well as, an associated 2% escalator.

The DNRC is in the scoping phase of the project and will consult specialists such as wildlife biologists, hydrologists, soil scientists and archaeologists in evaluating the proposal.

Comments on the proposal are being taken through July 16.

For questions contact the DNRC Stillwater Unit at 881-2666.

Mail comments to DNRC, Attn: Nicole Stickney, Real Estate Specialist, Stillwater Unit, P.O. Box 164, Olney, MT 59927 or email nstickney@mt.gov.

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