Dogs must be leashed on Waterworks Hill in the North Hills open space through May 31, to protect Missoula Phlox, a globally rare plant species. According to the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Field Guide, this native flowering cushion plant is found only in a few places in western Montana.
Conservation Lands Program Manager Jeff Gicklhorn says trampling by hikers and dogs is one of the largest threats to Missoula Phlox and can lead to reduced health or death of plants. Following proper trail etiquette and keeping your dog on-leash and yourself on the trail will help protect this and other sensitive species.
The Missoula Phlox is listed as a state "species of concern", meaning its survival is at risk due to declining population trends, threats to its habitat, restricted distribution, and/or other factors.
Gicklhorn says protecting native plants and their habitat is vital to preserving the biodiversity and beauty of City open space. "Caring for and protecting all of our native plant species will help us maintain the iconic landscapes and the quality recreational experience of Missoula’s Conservation Lands," he added.