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Beneath feet, Bozeman’s water source carries on

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Mountain Time Arts to highlight Bozeman Creek through public art

By Mira Brody EBS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

BOZEMAN – Living in Gallatin Valley means living in the shadow of many notable—and easily visible—mountain ranges; yet, Bozeman has at least one very much overlooked feature, Bozeman Creek, which runs silently beneath our feet and provides the micropolitan with much of its drinking water. 

Starting from Sourdough Canyon, a popular cross-country ski, bike and hiking haunt, Bozeman Creek flows under Kagy Blvd., along S. Church Ave., the Galligator Trail and Bogart Park, then ducks under the concrete of Main St., reappearing behind Bar IX before heading north and away from town. Despite its presence in some of Bozeman’s highest-trafficked areas, the creek fails to receive the recognition it deserves.

Organized by Mountain Time Arts, See Bozeman Creek is a project that will highlight the critical waterway through a variety of art displays and gatherings this summer. In the wake of COVID-19, the organization has been forced to postpone or adapt many scheduled gatherings, including a virtual fireside chat with storytellers and speakers slotted for May 7.

“We’ve largely ignored the creek and yet it sustainers us,” said Kate Belton, director of development and communications, who is coordinating the See Bozeman Creek project alongside founder Jim Madden. “This is a period of human uncertainty and danger but there’s a resiliency that the natural world can demonstrate. There’s this sense that the world and nature keeps on going.”

See Bozeman Creek is a fitting and ideal project, considering our current state of affairs; one can enjoy the waterway while social distancing and using nature as a recreational escape to enhance well-being.

“It’s truly our lifeline,” said Belton. “Bozeman Creek and Sourdough Creek are literally our water source. Not only our usable city water that we drink, but also what we use for surrounding agriculture.”

Later this summer, Belton will be coordinating a call for public art, and said Mountain Times Arts hope to install a series of pieces along the creek to highlight sections that are hidden by cement culverts, much like the mosaic on the sidewalk near the entrance of Bar IX. The organization is working with the Downtown Bozeman Partnership, city planners, local architect firms and the Extreme History Project to bring their vision to life, starting with the section that flows around city hall and under N. Rouse Ave.

“A huge percentage of people in Bozeman choose to live here because one of the most important things in their life is being able to connect with nature,” said Belton. She said although Bozeman is known for being a “mountain town,” not a “creek town,” Mountain Time Arts hopes to at least bring to light that somewhat invisible, but no less important, waterway. 

Share your Bozeman Creek experiences by using the #seebozemancreek hashtag and stay turned for more popup fireside chats and art installations through the summer.

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