BOZEMAN – The REI Bozeman store has granted $10,000 to the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to assist ongoing development of Bozeman’s Main Street to the Mountains trail system.

GVLT will use the REI funds for two new trail projects: one to reroute the upper loop of the Triple Tree Trail to reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat, improve user safety, and make the trail easier to maintain, and to begin construction of trails on land owned by Bozeman Deaconess Hospital east of Highland Boulevard.

GVLT has long worked to help create and expand what is now more than 60 miles of trail in the Main Street to the Mountains trail system around Bozeman. The group’s commitment to the outdoors through its mission of land conservation, stewardship, and creating trails to connect people, communities and the land aligns with the values of REI and its efforts to increase volunteerism in the outdoor, according to a press release from REI.

The project will utilize the help of community volunteers to improve the Triple Tree Trail infrastructure by building new trail access and replacing a bridge. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to help construct a new trail at the Bozeman Deaconess Gulch, which will link three existing trail corridors, filling a gap in the trail system and expanding recreational trail opportunities.

The grant is the result of a nomination made by the Bozeman REI store.

REI’s annual grants budget represents approximately 3 percent of the previous year’s operating profits and is approved by its board of directors. Last year, the company donated $2 million to conservation nonprofits across the country through its grants program. Since 1976, REI has provided more than $35 million to outdoor and conservation nonprofit organizations.

Previous stewardship grants from the Bozeman REI store funded GVLT’s Westside Boulder Connection project and the construction of artificial climbing boulders in city parks. In addition, REI funded the Montana Conservation Corps to support the Montana Outsiders Youth Service Corps project, which provided opportunities for young people to build trails and improve parks.

The Bozeman REI is situated in a geographically isolated part of the mountain West, says REI’s Outreach Specialist Teresa Larson says. Because of this, she recognizes the advantages of broadening the store’s regional outreach.

“We are all part of the local outdoor community, whether we live and recreate in Bozeman, Big Sky or West Yellowstone,” Larson said. “With stores in Bozeman and Missoula, we strive to connect with local nonprofits, nearby communities and visitors to the Greater Yellowstone Area alike. We always look at ways to partner with outlying communities to see how we can better support programs to preserve outdoor places.”