The Trust for Public Land has been working for five years to protect and transform 55 acres adjoining the historic Story Mill in Bozeman, Montana, into a unique city park with exciting opportunities for active recreation, outdoor community gathering spaces, a nature sanctuary, new trails and trail connections, and natural and cultural interpretive programs.
On March 20, 2017, the Montana Wetland Council awarded the 2017 Montana Wetland Stewardship Award to The Trust for Public Land citing the Trust’s accomplishments in the Story Mill Restoration Project.
The prestigious award recognizes groups and individuals who have demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment and effort to restore, conserve or enhance Montana’s wetlands. The award was presented today at a ceremony in the Montana State Capitol Rotunda.
In 2012, The Trust for Public Land undertook the ecological restoration of the Story Mill wetlands complex, engaging stakeholders in a year‐long design process with the stated goal of restoring and protecting on‐site natural processes necessary for a functioning riparian and wetland system. The largescale restoration, completed in 2016, resulted in a doubling of existing wetland acreage to 14 acres, restored fluvial processes along a half mile of the East Gallatin river, created green infrastructure for water quality improves at Bozeman Creek, reconnected over 2.5 acres of floodplain to Bozeman Creek and the East Gallatin River and expanded river access.
Located less than two miles from Bozeman’s downtown core, the restored wetlands are part of the 60‐ acre Story Mill Community Park project. The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the City of Bozeman on the development of this new, flagship city park slated to open in fall 2018.
Rich McEldowney of Confluence, Inc. who nominated the project for the wetlands award, noted, “Perhaps the most successful aspect of this project is the high level of inclusion and engagement with the community and stakeholders to provide vision and input throughout the four year design and construction process.”
Project stakeholders include the City of Bozeman, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Montana State University, Greater Gallatin Watershed Council, Gallatin Local Water Quality District, Trout Unlimited, Sacajawea Audubon, NorthWestern Energy, and numerous local water resource professionals.
“It is amazing to see the restored areas evolving and providing a unique outdoor classroom for our community.” exclaimed Maddy Pope, Story Mill Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land. “We are honored to receive this award from the Montana Wetland Council recognizing the project and our extraordinary community partners.”
“We are delighted to present this award to The Trust for Public Land.” stated Jordan Tollefson of the Montana Wetland Council, “The Story Mill Restoration Project is a perfect example of how collaboration among partners can lead to accomplishing shared goals and creating a resource that the community will have for many years to come.”
The Story Mill Community Park includes plans for a 30‐acre nature sanctuary which encompasses the restored wetland‐river complex. Situated in a once‐industrial area of Bozeman, the wetland and floodplain habitat of the Story Mill site has a history of use and habitat degradation. Restoration of this area supports improved fisheries and aquatic habitat, and wetlands, grasslands and wooded areas support the over 100 species of birds and numerous other wildlife that use the property.
The restoration included the creation of a large backwater slough which will act as a natural filter to mitigate upstream impacts of storm water in Bozeman Creek, just above the confluence with the East Gallatin River. “This concept may seem simple, but it is a huge advent to improving our urban water quality by using good old Mother Nature.” stated Craig Woolard, City of Bozeman Public Works Director.
As part of the broader Campaign for Story Mill Community Park, The Trust for Public Land secured funding for the restoration project from several sources including the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Future Fisheries Program, Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s Wetland Program and Non‐ Point Source Program, the LOR Foundation, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Program, the Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Wetland Program, and several other generous private individuals and foundations.