A new, nearly two-acre peace sign carved into the dirt of Missoula’s Waterworks hill destroyed an extremely rare plant that grows nowhere else.

"It's a mat-forming herb called Missoula phlox," said Missoula Parks and Recreation Research Program Specialist Chris Carlson. "This variety of the species only grows in the Missoula area, on the North Hills and Water Works, up on the tops of ridges.   [Missoula Phlox] is considered a 'species of concern' by the state of Montana. They don't grow in a wide-spread area, so they can be extinguished from the landscape if we are not careful."

Carlson says Missoula Parks and Recreation is working to repair the vandalism, but it won’t be cheap.

"Over the last couple years, we've been collecting some seeds form the local phlox population, so we have a number of them growing in our green house right now," Carlson said. "So, we will certainly be planting out some of those phlox. The problem is, there are other places that could use phlox as well, so to respond to this vandalism we are going to have to redirect resources from those areas to repair the damaged area."

It is unclear who carved the peace sign into the mountain, but they could face criminal mischief charges. For years, a microwave tower was often graffitied with a peace sign near the same location.

Chris Carlson:


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