Conservation District announces meeting changes

The date of Gallatin Conservation District’s October board meeting has changed to Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, at 9 a.m. The meeting will be in GCD’s conference room, 120 S. 5th Street, Suite B102, in Manhattan.

GCD will not have a November board meeting and asks affected parties to please plan their 310 projects accordingly. Applications submitted in November will be processed in December.

If you have questions, please call (406) 282-4350, or e-mail becky@gallatincd.org.

Highway 287 resurfacing proposed near Three Forks

THREE FORKS — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to announce and invite the public to comment on a proposal to resurface about 4.5 miles of US 287, southwest of Three Forks. The project on US 287 begins at the county line near Milligan Canyon Road and extends northeast for 4.5 miles ending at the Highway 2 intersection.

Proposed work includes milling the existing surface, applying a new overlay, and finishing with a chip seal. The project also includes new pavement markings and the installation of new signs and guardrail. The purpose of the project is to extend the service life of the roadway, provide additional skid resistance, and take cost-effective action to preserve and maintain the existing roadway.

The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2023, depending on completion of all project development activities and availability of funding. No new right-of-way or utility relocations will be needed.

MDT welcomes the public to provide ideas and comments on the proposed project. Comments may be submitted online at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml or in writing to Montana Department of Transportation, Butte office, at PO Box 3068, Butte, MT 59702-3068. Please note that comments are for project UPN 9731000.

The public is encouraged to contact Butte District Administrator William Fogarty at (406) 494-9635 or Project Design Engineer Joe Walsh at (406) 494 9622 for additional information.

Middle Cottonwood acreage transferred to Forest Service

The Custer-Gallatin National Forest just added 160 acres of public land. In April 2020, GVLT purchased 160 acres in Middle Cottonwood Canyon to protect important wildlife habitat and the popular Middle Cottonwood trail. In the last month, those 160 acres officially became public lands when GVLT transferred the property to the United States of America for inclusion into the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.

“We are so excited to add this valuable habitat as public lands to the Custer Gallatin National Forest” said Corey Lewellen, Bozeman District Ranger. “I’m incredibly grateful for GVLTs leadership, the generosity of the Skogen family, and the support from a long list of key partners who all helped make this important project happen.”

The scenic property sits in the West Bridger Mountains, approximately six miles northeast of Bozeman. The entire parcel is mapped as critical winter range for elk and mule deer by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and features diverse wildlife habitat. The parcel also contains the popular Middle Cottonwood Trail which crosses the property for a half-mile and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Purchasing the land secured perpetual public access to the trail and surrounding public lands and will provide new hunting and recreational activities to the community.

“The Middle Cottonwood Trail would look and feel pretty different with a driveway and some houses a half-mile up in prime habitat. Opportunities like this one don’t come around very often and we are grateful to the project partners and especially the landowners for making it happen,” said Brendan Weiner, conservation director at GVLT. The property appraised for $752,000 and the landowner – Michael Skogen – donated over half of the property value toward the project.

The remaining funding came from private donors, grants from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust and others, as well as support from local businesses focused on outdoor recreation such as Sitka Gear and onX.

The community will now have public access to all 160 acres of the highly scenic parcel, where trail users have spotted an array of wildlife including mule deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and eagles. A pristine, spring-fed creek flows through the property to Middle Cottonwood Creek, surrounded by aspen groves and mature forests. GVLT is grateful to the US Forest Service for their partnership on this project and commitment to the long-term stewardship of the property into the future.

3 killed in ATV crash near Billings

BILLINGS (AP) — A woman and two men were killed in a weekend all-terrain vehicle crash east of Billings, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office said.

The four-seat vehicle was found in a shallow ravine in a field off U.S. Highway 87 East on Sunday morning after the riders failed to return to a residence when expected, Sheriff Mike Linder said in a statement. Officials weren’t sure exactly when the crash occurred, but officers were called at 10:30 a.m., Linder said.

A preliminary investigation indicates the vehicle went into the ravine and struck the other side, Linder said. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The victims were Dallas Mittlestadt, 22, of Shepherd; Tyler Craig, 24, and Kayleigh Weiland, 22, both of Billings, the coroner’s office said Tuesday.