Creating trails for all

In the heart of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust developed several layers of partnership to create several layers of conservation benefit in Highland Glenn near Bozeman, Montana.

By Marc Smiley May 26

The city owned a large developable property without any permanent protection, which it delivered to GVLT with the edict, “Go crazy—build trails and do what you can to get people to use this area,” explains Matt Marcinek, GVLT’s community trails program manager. “So we did.”

And (good) crazy is exactly what followed. GVLT collaborated with the local hospital, Gallatin Mental Health Center, to intentionally build trails with an inclusive community mindset. The trails were sited specifically to provide a nearby low-income community with access to nature. The local ski club, Bridger Ski Foundation, joined forces to support winter trail maintenance.

“This place is now being used in therapy—hiking these trails is a prescribed activity for patients at the mental health center,” Marcinek explains. “We’re connecting to segments of people who wouldn’t give to conservation,” he adds. “They see us working in these spaces—community health and affordable housing—and they’re willing to step up in their support of us.”

This story was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of Saving Land.