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Headwaters Trail Systems receives Open Lands Funding

At a meeting last week, the Gallatin County Commission approved using $100,000 in Open Lands Program funding for the Headwaters Trails System in Three Forks.

The funding will be used to maintain over four miles of trail in three different sections: from the Madison River pedestrian bridge east to where the trail terminates, from the Drouillard Fishing Access site to Kansas Street in Three Forks, and from Hickory Street south to the base-ball fields.

This is the second straight year the Commission has approved $100,000 for maintenance on the 12-mile trail system.

According to the application, the project will be put out to bid this summer.

In a letter included in the funding application, Three Forks Mayor Randy Johnston said that maintenance is an important necessity due to the large usership of the Headwaters Trail System.

"Trees grow, and their roots create trip hazards and pavement cracks; even native grasses and weeds along the trail edge, along with Montana's harsh weather, contribute to deterioration and crumbling of the asphalt," said Johnston. "Maintenance is very costly, and we have now completed roughly 50 percent of the entire trail network. The trails have been funded exclusively via grants and donations, and we hope that with another Open Lands contribution, we can continue to maintain a safe trail for the wide range of users."

Along with the Headwaters Trails System, the Gallatin County Commission approved using another $548,158 in Open Lands Program money to help fund nine eight other projects that sup-port open space in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Big Sky, Bridger Canyon, and waterways across the Gallatin Valley.

"This is a really fun exercise to be reminded of all the great work that's happening out there in the community in providing conservation and recreation infrastructure across the county," said Gallatin County Commissioner Zach Brown. "They all add incredible richness and value to our communities."

The other eight projects funded include:

• Big Sky Owners Association – Little Coyote Pond Fishing Access and amenities – $100,000

• Gallatin River Task Force – Greek Creek streambank restoration and river access improvement project – $50,000

• Gallatin Watershed Council – Cleanup of streams and rivers in the Lower Gallatin Watershed – $10,308

• Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter – Improvements at Maxi Park, an 18-acre off-leash dog park at the shelter – $17,850

• Trout Unlimited – Third phase of the Dry Creek restoration project that would restore 14 additional stream banks – $50,000

• West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation – construction of the Rendezvous Operations Building to serve as a base for the Rendezvous Trail System – $100,000

• Crosscut Mountain Sports Center – construction of 3 kilometers of paved trail for roller-skiing – $100,000

• Gallatin County Regional Park – construction of a 1,200 square-foot shop to store park supplies and equipment, and a connecting trail to the park and an asphalt walkway along Vaquero Parkway – $100,000

Money for these projects come from the voter-approved Gallatin County Open Space Levy, which was passed in 2018. This year, there is about $3.5 million available total in the program.

While a majority of that money funds conservation projects, such as conservation easements for private landowners, about $887,000 was earmarked by the Gallatin County Commission for "other eligible projects." These projects must be released to land acquisition, capital improvements, and maintenance projects that support the purpose of the Open Space Levy.

Money left over from this round of applications will be rolled over to next year's pool of funds.

 
 
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