The funding application was spearheaded by the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) and Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute (WTI) and was a collaborative effort including the City of Bozeman and the US Forest Service, with support from over a dozen user groups and partner organizations. “We are pleased to use our knowledge of transportation funding and proposal writing to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety to the M. This project should help reduce parking demand and traffic congestion at two extremely busy trailheads.” said Rebecca Gleason, research engineer at WTI.
The pathway will provide a safe, separated trail for bicycle and pedestrian traffic on MT Highway 86, the primary route connecting Bozeman to the Bridger Mountains. Although just two miles from the existing trail system, there is currently no safe path to walk, run, or bike on Bridger Canyon Road. The “M” and Drinking Horse Mountain are two of the most popular trailheads accessing federal land in the Gallatin Valley.
The Western Federal Lands Highway Division will manage the project and at least $400,000 of local matching funds is required. A possible source is the Bozeman Parks & Trails Bond, which was passed by voters with 73% majority in November 2012. The ballot language for the bond specifically stated that funds could be used for projects “such as lands for trails in and around the Bridger Mountain foothills.”
“We are excited about the possibility of this trail, and the Trails and Parks Committee and City Commission will review this project through our formal application process before Bond funding is allocated,” said Mitch Overton, City of Bozeman Parks and Recreation Director.
The Gallatin Valley Land Trust anticipates applying for matching funds from the Bozeman Parks & Trails Bond as soon as their process is established in early fall. “We are ecstatic at this opportunity because this trail will help connect one of the biggest gaps in our Main Street to the Mountains trail system – finally linking existing trails to public lands in the mountains north of town. This trail is integral to our community’s vision for safe, accessible paths for transportation and recreation,” said Penelope Pierce, GVLT Executive Director.
Additional match funding has been committed from Collin’s Coalition, a local non-profit organization that works to improve the safety of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. “This project is an incredible opportunity to improve safety for recreation and transportation in Bozeman,” said Tom Keck, Collin’s Coalition founder.
“This project will allow people to access their National Forest lands in another way from town or their homes. Arriving at the trailhead without your car is a great alternative. This is critical in order to keep safe, open access at a time when our trailheads are becoming overwhelmed with vehicle traffic.” said Lisa Stoeffler, Bozeman District Ranger for the Gallatin National Forest.
The Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFL) operates as part of the Federal Lands Highway Program, serving the needs of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming. WFL roads serve recreational travel and tourism, protect and enhance natural resources, provide sustained economic development in rural areas, and provide needed transportation access for Native Americans.