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Letter to the Editor: Proposed glamping resort could harm Gallatin River

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To the Editor,

My name is Megan Buecking. I am writing today to inform the public of a new resort that has been proposed for the island in Gallatin Gateway. I believe there are serious issues with this proposal and it will cause irreparable harm to the Gallatin River ecosystem and the quality of life for the residents of Gallatin Gateway. 

The proposed “Riverbend Glamping Getaway” resort will include 57 units comprised of wall tents, tiny houses, travel trailers and Conestoga wagons. The property owners, Jeff and Jimira Pfeil, also see the potential for further development, including a potential gift shop, coffee shop, fly shop, tiki bar, outdoor patio, etc. 

While I could go into great detail about the numerous negative impacts of this project, the current public comment period is focused on the pipelines that will be installed under the river and on the floodplain. In order to provide utilities to the resort, natural gas, wastewater and fiber optics will need to be routed from the town of Gallatin Gateway, under the river, to the island using horizontal directional drilling. The end result will be the piping of hazardous materials under the river and within the floodplain, where the pipes will be susceptible to damage and leakage.

I believe that the building of such a resort and subsequent pipelines is in opposition to the floodplain regulations and should not be approved. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure the safety of the people on the river while avoiding rescue and relief efforts, prolonged business and public service interruptions, and damage to public facilities and utilities. Can you imagine what would happen if a flood were to unexpectedly rip through a glamping resort in Gallatin Gateway? What would happen to the wastewater and natural gas lines? After living on the river for five years, I’ve seen the damage flooding causes without the added risk of natural gas and sewage. The potential results of a flood are dire and in direct contrast to the purpose of the floodplain regulations. 

What can we do? Luckily, there is still time to for public comment in regards to two of the four permits the property owners are seeking. The first permit is from NorthWestern Energy to allow a natural gas pipeline under the river to the island. The second is from the property owners to route a wastewater pipeline and fiber optic cables. Public comment on issues regarding building in the floodplain associated with these pipeline permits is open until Feb. 18. If you have concerns about this proposed project, specifically concerning issues of installing pipelines in the floodplain, please send your comments to the before Feb. 18 to planning@gallatin.mt.gov or by mail to Gallatin County Floodplain Administrator, 311 W. Main Room 180, Bozeman, MT 59715.

Additionally, reaching out to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Gallatin Conservation District, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation could also help highlight the issues. 

I have created a Facebook group titled “Save the River: Gallatin Gateway Citizens Against Glamping Resort.” Please join this group if you would like to stay up-to-date on our fight against the glamp-ground. Thank you all!

Megan Buecking
Big Sky, Montana

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