The Bozeman Creek Committee was recently established to address the future of Bozeman Creek (aka Sourdough Creek).
Bozeman, Montana and Boulder, Colorado are often compared: both have a major university, a plethora of outdoor enthusiasits, a high standard of living, and a creek, but up until recently, unlike Boulder which began Boulder Creek improvements more than 30 years ago and now showcases it as a model for inner-city/downtown waterways, Bozeman, MT simply sent its creek underground as it approached downtown, concealing and/or diverting its waters from view.
In response, the Bozeman Creek Committee was recently created to address the future of Bozeman's urban waterway, primarily the section that flows from about Goldenstein through downtown Bozeman.
The Committee consists of representatives from Downtown Bozeman Partnership, the National Park Service, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, Bozeman city officials, Friends of Bogert Park, and Bozeman creekside landowners.
Just north of Bogert Park, Bozeman Creek is sent underground in various spots, flowing beneath Olive Street, Babcock Street, Main Street, and under six parking lots, only to reappear near the new City Hall, after which it flows ditch-style along Rouse Street, to the chagrin of some property owners.
"The creek has just been so marginalized," Mikel Kallestad, Bozeman architect, said. "It's just been dealt with in a functional ‘how-can-we-get-the-water-out-of-here?' approach....There's nothing picturesque about it."
Born high in the Gallatin Mountains, south of Bozeman, and flowing out of Sourdough Canyon, "the top eight miles [of Bozeman Creek] are in good shape," said Gary Weiner, on loan from the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. "It's really only when the creek hits the [Gallatin] valley floor and hits the residential areas where the issues become severe."
Weiner further stated, "As it gets into residential areas, the creek is channelized. It's been narrowed. It's been straightened, and vegetation has been removed from the creek banks. What naturally follows as the banks erode."
According to Bozeman's Daily Chronicle, the mayor of Bozeman, '"Jeff Krauss, said that as a place that takes pride in its clean air and water, Bozeman should focus on fixing up Bozeman Creek. But, he added, "This is the time to ask what you can do for your city."'
Read this thoughtful history of Bozeman Creek and Story Mill Ditch.