Fort Missoula Regional Park first in state to receive national sustainability award
In 2022, the City of Missoula and Missoula County received a national award for innovative sustainable design at Fort Missoula Regional Park (FMRP). The park has been awarded SILVER Level certification under the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES®) rating system. The 156-acre park is the first SITES-certified project in Montana and the largest SITES-certified developed park to date.
SITES is a comprehensive rating system that defines sustainable land development and management. SITES-certified landscapes like FMRP help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities. Just as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) transformed the built environment, SITES has transformed land development and use.
Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler said FMRP was constructed using nationally recognized standards for safety and environmental sustainability, from energy-efficient lighting, resource-saving irrigation systems, soil restoration and innovative stormwater treatment to the use of local contractors and locally sourced materials. FMRP’s SITES recognition demonstrates the City and County’s commitment to a sustainable system of parks, trails and open spaces that protect diverse habitats and accessible landscapes.
“SITES principles provided a comprehensive framework for park design, construction, operations and management that will continue to benefit the environment, our local and regional economies, and our community’s health and wellbeing by connecting people to nature, their communities and each other,” Gaukler said.
An important SITES criterion is whether a project protects and maintains cultural and historical places. FMRP is adjacent to the original Fort Missoula established in 1877 by the U.S. Army and is within the Fort Missoula Historic District. From 1933 to 1941, Fort Missoula served as Northwest District Headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Over 17,000 corpsmen were processed and trained at the Fort over the course of the Depression decade.
Fort Missoula’s CCC heritage was integrated into park architecture, materials and historic interpretation. History is preserved for future generations throughout the park, including a .5-mile interpretive loop with trail connections to Historic Fort Missoula museums. The park fosters a strong sense of stewardship, sustainability and quality of life through the preservation of the historic and cultural landscape.
SITES is used by landscape architects, designers, engineers, planners, ecologists, architects, developers, and policymakers to align land development and management with sustainable design. “The Fort Missoula Regional Park project team recognizes that land is a crucial component of a sustainable built environment and can be planned, designed, developed and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits of healthy functioning landscapes,” said Mahesh Ramanujan, president and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council and Green Business Certification Inc. (GCBI). “Through their SITES certification, Fort Missoula Regional Park is reducing water demand and improving air quality and human health while connecting people to nature.”
Owned and administered by GBCI, SITES is the most comprehensive program for designing, developing and maintaining sustainable landscapes. 250 projects are participating in the SITES program, covering more than 1.18 billion square feet of outdoor space in 40 U.S. states, Washington, DC, and 15 countries.
FMRP opened in 2018 and is operated jointly by the City of Missoula and Missoula County. Voters approved a countywide Park and Trails Bond in 2014 to fund park development.
SITES-CERTIFIED PROJECTS MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
- Benefit the environment, property owners and local and regional communities and economies.
- Provide ecosystem services and create ecologically resilient communities that are better able to withstand and recover from floods, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events.
- Reduce water demand by requiring less maintenance and filtering and reducing stormwater runoff
- Involve no—or limited—pesticide use, reduce energy consumption, help sequester carbon and improve air quality.
- Preserve wildlife habitat, conserve natural resources and offset development impacts.
- Promote human health and wellbeing.
FMRP KEY PROJECT AREAS:
- Water: Efficient irrigation system to conserve water by automatically adjusting irrigation rates using rain and soil sensors. Use of bioswales instead of concrete gutters and storm sewers to filter stormwater runoff.
- Soils: Soil restoration is the park’s foundation for sustainability, resiliency and ongoing operations and maintenance. The park includes 30 acres of revegetated soils, 24.7 acres of restored soils, 40.2 acres of athletic and sports fields and .8 acres of bioswales.
- Local contractors and locally sourced materials: Park construction supported approximately 350 construction jobs, and nearly all 150 subcontractors were based in Western Montana. Many of the construction materials were locally sourced, including recycled plastic bottles from Yellowstone National Park for the synthetic turf, locally salvaged timber for park shelters and local river stones.
- Park design and construction were based on community-defined values: Through an extensive public process, residents and the design team developed the following guiding principles: protect and enhance unique historical values, encompass diverse activities, serve people of all abilities, ages and income groups, environmental sensitivity should drive design and construction, balance developed parkland and undeveloped parkland to support wildlife and open space, maintain natural views and vistas, be sensitive to surrounding neighborhoods.
- Owner: City of Missoula & Missoula County
- Construction Manager: Jackson Contractor Group, Inc.
- Landscape Architect / Civil Engineer: The Land Group, Inc.
- Civil Engineer | Survey: DJ & A, PC
- Architect: Oz Architecture
- Electrical | Mechanical |Plumbing: Associate Construction Engineering, Inc.
- Irrigation: Baer Design Group, LLC