Fort Owen State Park near Stevensville closed last year, so that a new roof could be put on the historic adobe barracks building. But that's not all that is planned for one of the smaller state parks in Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks completed purchase of about an acre of land from the adjoining MGY Ranch last year, with the intent to build a new parking area that would have enough room for school groups, buses and special events. The department has a proposed plan and would like comments from the public on the draft environmental assessment (EA).

Regional State Park Manager Loren Flynn said the project will better define the park boundaries, including new fencing, signs and a handicapped accessible path from the parking lot to the historic site. Comments are due by February 25. More information is at the FWP website, and you can comment online, under "Public Notices." You can also find more about the park at the FWP State Parks website.

Major John Owen began the trading post in the Bitterroot Valley in 1850. He also worked with Father DeSmet and Father Ravalli of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Stevensville. Only one barracks building remains of the fort structure. When it reopens after the improvements have been completed later this year, you'll be able view exhibits and interpretive signs about the history of the fort and the area.

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