Trails

People use a trail in Gallatin Regional Park, which is on the west side of Bozeman in the so-called Triangle Area between Belgrade, Bozeman and Four Corners.

A draft of a plan outlining a vision for a trail network in the so-called Triangle Area between Belgrade, Bozeman and Four Corners was released this week for public review and comment.

For about a year, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Gallatin County have been working to create a plan that will solidify the vision for non-motorized transportation to flow freely within the area and connect to existing trail systems in the three surrounding communities.

The draft plan and a short survey about it can be viewed on the project website at www.triangletrailplan.com. Planners hope members of the public will provide feedback on the major elements of the plan, such as the location of trails and trail standards. The public comment period is open until Sunday, June 13.

“Thirty years ago, GVLT and partners championed a vision to connect Main Street to the Mountains with trails,” said Chet Work, executive director of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. “We have an opportunity now to set the vision for the next 30 years and ensure that we’ll have a connected trail system we can be proud of.

“The time to plan for trails in the Triangle Area is now, ahead of the rapid development we’ll see in the area,” he said.

Project organizers believe the major benefit of collaboration is ensuring consistent standards and a complete system across all jurisdictions. Belgrade Planning Director Jason Karp, who has represented the city on the project steering committee, said last summer he believes the effort provides the opportunity to create “great connectivity between Belgrade, Four Corners, and Bozeman” on non-motorized trails.

“Long range, it will definitely benefit Belgrade,” Karp said.

The draft plan was developed using a variety of public input opportunities, including discussions with key community groups and cycling tours of the area. The plan focuses on trails that are separated from traffic and accessible to a wide variety of users.

There are three types of trail recommendation in the plan: neighborhood trails that would be developed as part of new subdivisions; connector trails that bring people to schools, parks, and commercial nodes; and commuter pathways that are designed for efficient transportation across longer distances.

The plan also includes design standards as well as amenity recommendations. The trail network would be implemented over time as development and infrastructure projects align with the plan

“The existence of an adopted trail plan is critical to providing predictability and clarity to local developers and citizens,” said Scott MacFarlane, a Gallatin County commissioner. “This document is something our community expects us to have and is responsible land use planning. A clear plan will empower county commissioners to realize the communities’ vision for years to come.”

Adoption of the plan is anticipated this summer as part of the Gallatin County and Belgrade Growth policies, and referenced in the updated Bozeman Parks, Recreation, Open Space, and Trails Plan.