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GVLT and Bozeman Health to Begin Construction on New Wellness Trail

Community news | Friday, April 9, 2021

Contact: Lauren Brendel, M.S.

Bozeman, MT [April 9, 2021]—The pandemic has reinforced what our community has always known to be true— trails are critically important infrastructure for an #outdoorhealthylife. Not only is walking outside on trails beneficial for physical health, including decreasing risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as strengthening bones and muscles, it has benefits for mental and emotional health as well. Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Bozeman Health will begin construction this spring on a new Wellness Trail that will connect and improve access to existing trails within the eastern side of the Highland Glen Nature Preserve (a Bozeman Health property), nearby residential and commercial neighborhoods and the Gallatin Mental Health Center.

This new half mile trail will provide a safe and critical connection to the existing 4.5 miles of trails within Highland Glen Nature Preserve for the more than 2,000 individuals who use the Gallatin Mental Health Center annually, as well nearby affordable housing neighborhoods and businesses off Haggerty Lane. The new connector will allow participants from the Mental Health Center to access the trails directly from the health center campus rather than having to walk along Haggerty Lane and Ellis Street—a much longer, more trafficked, and less peaceful route. GVLT worked with a number of private landowners, in addition to the health system and City of Bozeman, to clarify and establish trail easements along the trail corridor. The Wellness Trail reflects GVLT and Bozeman Health’s dedication to equity and providing access to the outdoors for underserved and low-income individuals and families.

As we all know, a walk outside is nature’s best medicine. Bozeman Health is inspired by a desire to take outdoor active and healthy lifestyles and combine them with traditional services including behavioral health to increase health and wellness in the region in a way that is accessible to all community members. In this spirit, Bozeman Health’s #OutdoorHealthyLife campaign encourages people throughout Southwest Montana to take advantage of the benefits that spending time outside provides.

For years, GVLT has partnered with Bozeman Health and the Gallatin Mental Health Center on the Trails Prescription Program (TrailsRx), encouraging medical providers to write ‘prescriptions’ for trail walks to their patients who need increased physical activity, social connection, and fresh air. The TrailsRx materials are available to the community and medical providers free of charge and are printed in both English and Spanish.

Bozeman Health’s support and financial contributions to both organizations were key to the launch of this project. The health system generously partnered with GVLT and the City of Bozeman Parks & Recreation Department in 2013 to allow for public access on their 450-acre property. With the help of volunteers, GVLT designed and constructed the 4.5 miles of trails that exist today and connect with the larger Main Street to the Mountains trail system. The Bridger Ski Foundation grooms the trails in the Highland Glen Nature Preserve in the winter. The trails provide a welcome natural respite from the bustling Bozeman core. While the single-track trails are great for bike rides, trail runs and quiet walks, the community is encouraged to respect the existing agricultural use on the property and extensive wildlife by leashing their dogs, cleaning up dog waste, and being courteous to other users.

The Wellness Trail cost approximately $47,000 to create. Funding for this project was provided by GVLT, Bozeman Health, City of Bozeman, Gianforte Family Foundation, Sanderson Stewart, Gallatin Association of Realtors, National Association of Realtors, AMB West Philanthropies, Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, and the One Valley Community Foundaton.

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