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GVLT and Newhall Family protect section of Bridger Ridge Trail in perpetuity

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PHOTO BY ERIC BENDICK

GALLATIN VALLEY LAND TRUST

BOZEMAN – Gallatin Valley Land Trust is excited to announce the dedication of a permanent trail easement on a .6-mile-long section of the Bridger Ridge Trail. The 18.9-mile-long Bridger Ridge Trail lies almost entirely on public land managed by the United States Forest Service. A small but key section of the trail near Mount Baldy crosses private land owned by the Newhall family.

The Newhall family has historically provided public access to the Bridger Ridge Trail since purchasing the property over 50 years ago.

“This trail in particular is so important to the Bozeman community, it felt especially important to ensure this access forever; we’re all trail users so we recognize the value in trails,” said Katy Kelly, granddaughter of Jay and Jane Newhall who originally purchased the property in 1963.

“As a family we like to consider ourselves stewards of our land but realistically there may be a day when we aren’t in a position to keep it,” she said. “This easement ensures that if anything happens to us the trail will be protected for future generations. I think my granny Jane would have wanted us to be thinking about the future in this way.”

Eventually this trail easement will be conveyed to the USFS, where it will be protected and remain open to public access forever. Losing access could have resulted in a challenging and costly reroute as this section of trail sits on the Bridger ridge spine, surrounded by steep, rocky slopes that are not conducive to trail building.

“The Bridger Ridge Trail is an important community asset with tremendous recreational value,” said GVLT Executive Director Chet Work. “People come from all over the world to compete and play on this trail. The Newhalls have given us a gift that will be forever cherished in our community and beyond.”

The Bridger Ridge Trail is the site of the renowned annual Bridger Ridge Run. Local athletes rallied to support the project.

“This is a historic section of trail on the iconic Bridger Ridge,” said Mike Wolfe, founder and head coach of The Mountain Project, and current course record holder for the run. “This place means so much to our community of athletes, and any Bozemanite who recreates in the Bridgers. It is surely a place—and a trail—worthy of protection for future generations.”

Lead project support came from SITKA, who made a generous gift through the SITKA Ecosystem Grants program. Additional support was provided from the Trom Family, Knoff Group Real Estate, Seessel Family, Bridger Canyon Property Owners’ Association, The Mountain Project, Mystery Ranch, onX, Megyn and William Lansing, Dan Porter and dozens of individual supporters.

This trail easement ensures that the entire Bridger Ridge Trail will remain open and accessible to the public forever. GVLT would like to sincerely thank the Newhall family and the project supporters who made this trail easement possible. Project supporters are invited to a GVLT ribbon cutting ceremony and trail project workday on the Bridger Ridge Trail that will be scheduled for late spring 2022.

What is a trail easement?

A trail easement is a voluntary legal agreement that allows public access across private land within a specified corridor.

About Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Gallatin Valley Land Trustconnects people, communities, and open lands through conservation of working farms and ranches, healthy rivers, and wildlife habitat, and the creation of trails in the Montana headwaters of the Missouri and Upper Yellowstone Rivers.

Visit gvlt.org for more information.

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