By Maddy Pope Trust for Public Land

BOZEMAN – More than 140 people came to the Emerson Cultural Center on Feb. 7 to share ideas and discuss the future of the Story Mill site at a community workshop.

Located on the northeast side of Bozeman, the 61-acre historic mill site comprises a significant wildlife area and wetland complex – including stretches of both Bozeman Creek and the East Gallatin River.

The Trust for Public Land, which recently acquired the property, is working with other stakeholders to transform Story Mill into a community asset. Proposals include a new city park, expanded trail connections, wetlands restoration and water quality enhancement, and community agriculture – as well as possible redevelopment of an affordable residential community at the site of the former Bridger View Trailer Court.

At the workshop, groups weighed the needs and benefits of competing park uses; the challenges of balancing conservation and recreation in future management; the importance of the site’s wetlands and rivers for enjoyment and water quality; the opportunity for new trail connections; present day opportunities linking back to the site’s agricultural history; and potential private redevelopment of a portion of the former trailer court there.

While wide-ranging ideas were discussed, workshop attendees overall voiced overwhelming support for the idea of a new city park at the Story Mill site.

General sentiment was the site should be revitalized as a flagship park for the Bozeman community; that the site’s rivers and wetlands complex are a valuable community asset that should be protected; and future management of the park should prioritize protecting habitat for fish and wildlife.

The workshop facilitators were Pat Byorth of Greater Gallatin Watershed Council; John Muhlfeld of River Design Group; Heather Grenier and Tracy Menuez of the Human Resources Development Council; Rob Pertzborn and Susan Riggs of Intrinsic Architecture; Penelope Pierce, Peter Brown and Gary Vodehnal of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust; Ben Lloyd of Comma-Q Architecture; Troy Scherer of Design 5; and Sarah Alexander of Market Day Foods.

Maddy Pope is the project manager for both the Story Mill and The Trust for Public Land. TPL’s Northern Rockies Office is located in the Emerson Cultural Center in Bozeman. For more information, contact Pope at maddy.pope@tpl.org or visit tpl.org/what-we-do/where-we-work/montana/story-mill.html.