Gallatin County Commission approves $458K in funding for Open Lands projects
By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER
The Gallatin County Commission approved funding for multiple projects aimed at improving open lands in Big Sky, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Four Corners and Three Forks using money from the Open Lands Program, according to a Tuesday press release from the county.
The commission unanimously approved a total of $458,223 in funding to be spread across six projects.
The Big Sky Owners Association was approved for $100,000 in funding to go toward restoration on the Little Coyote Pond and West Fork River. Sediments from decades of development have caused the pond to be filled with sediment, which is negatively impacting fish in the area, according to BSOA. The restoration and revegetation project will improve fishery health in the Little Coyote Pond and West Fork River.
Eagle Mount, a Bozeman-based nonprofit that works to lower the barriers to outdoor recreation for individuals with disabilities or cancer, will receive $38,928 to go toward a land acquisition for future programming, infrastructure, community recreation and public access to Bozeman’s Gallagator Trail.
Gallatin Valley Land Trust is set to receive $100,000 to complete an East/West Connector trail in Bozeman, a project that aims to connect the newer neighborhoods on the western side of the city to an existing trail network managed by GVLT, according to a release from GVLT.
Another $100,000 was approved for the Yellowstone Shortline Trail, an initiative led by a group of West Yellowstone locals that aims to establish a trail along the historic route of the Oregon Short Line Railroad. According to the project’s website, the trail is designed for resident and visitor use and would run from the Montana-Idaho border into the center of West Yellowstone.
The commission approved $100,000 for improvements to the Headwaters Trail System in Three Forks, which currently provides nearly 12 miles of paved trails along the former Milwaukee Railroad, according to the project site.
An additional $19,295 was allocated to the Craighead Institute for wildlife habitat and water quality improvements at the Gallatin County Regional Park in Bozeman.
“I’m really impressed with all of the applications,” Gallatin County Commissioner Jennifer Boyer stated in the release. “All of these projects are well designed, community minded, and have incredible support from a variety of partners and agencies.”
The funding comes from the Gallatin County Open Space Levy, which was approved by voters in 2018. The levy is expected to bring in over $2.44 million through the end of 2023. The six projects that the commission approved for funding were selected from a total of eleven applicants, the release stated.