“The public is still under the impression that potentially the Melbys will eventually end up with the mountain,” John Stegmaier, the executive director of Mountain Bike Missoula, said Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s going to happen any longer because they’re no longer under contract and no longer suing to that end.”

After it appeared that Marshall Mountain in Missoula, Montana had been sold to a new owner, a lawsuit has been filed after the sale fell through. According to Missoula Current, the former buyers(Spencer and Collete Melby) are suing Bruce and Kim Doerring for a breach of contract. Instead of trying to hold onto the mountain, the couple has filed an amendment in the Missoula County District Court to receive damages rather than purchase the mountain. The amendment claims that the sellers(Doerings) added last minute to the Deed a broad “public usage easement” to allow hikers, bikers, and skiers access to the mountain.

“The Doerings wished to kill the deal with the Melbys so that the Doerings could accept the backup offer on the property in a cash-only deal on more favorable terms for the Doerings,” the suit states.

In the meantime, the backup proposal to purchase the property that ended up coming in second is currently negotiating with the Doerings to purchase the mountain. Locals Rick and Rika Wishcamper, along with financial backers, are looking to purchase the property this Spring, and eventually return it to be the public domain within two years.

“We will be purchasing the property and essentially holding the property for the city to put together a comprehensive use plan and a comprehensive financing package to repurchase the property from us in 18 to 24 months,” Wishcamper said. “The conversations have been preliminary, but we’ve had a couple of meetings to discuss what the process will look like.”

“We’re all long-time Missoulians and we appreciate what Marshall Mountain means to the recreation community, especially the mountain bike and cross-country skiing community,” Wishcamper said. “We feel that it offers such a unique opportunity for high-level activity for Missoulians 10 minutes from town.”

Marshall Mountain ran from 1941 to 2003 and is just ten minutes from the college town of Missoula. A low elevation and smaller snowfall totals than other Montana mountains caused the mountain to close in 2003. The property was listed for sale in 2016. A lot of work has been done to keep the trails in great shape for backcountry skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. If the Wishcampers buy the property, it looks like that will remain the case.

Image Credits: KPAXSkimap.org, Five Valley Lands Trust

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