Bozeman is one of two communities in Montana that will receive help this year from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, federal officials announced last week.

The RTCA program helps communities by assigning a staff member to projects that improve local access to nature.

In Bozeman, the projects will focus on Bozeman Creek and the East Gallatin Recreation Area.

Gary Weiner, local representative for the program, said this is the first year efforts are being aimed at the East Gallatin Recreation Area.

“We’re just now beginning to ramp that project up,” he said.

Weiner plans to work with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to restore a quarter mile of the East Gallatin River near Rouse Avenue and Griffin Drive by the old city landfill.

The project may include cleaning up the stream and restoring stream banks, providing better public access to the East Gallatin River and building new trails. A “water trail” for people to float from Story Mill to 19th Avenue may be considered, Weiner said, if efforts can be expanded to encompass a longer stretch of the river.

This is the third year Weiner will guide the Bozeman Creek Enhancement Project. The Bozeman City Commission endorsed the plan last summer.

The Bozeman Creek Enhancement Plan would benefit a six-mile stretch of the stream through town. The plan would realign the creek through Bogert Park and make the stream more accessible and attractive to the public throughout the city.

Weiner is currently pursuing grants and other funding for the Bozeman Creek plan.

“We’re waiting to hear back from our grant requests, and things, so far, are looking fairly positive,” he said this week.

The RTCA program provides planning assistance for community-led natural resource and recreation projects. Every year, RTCA partnerships develop or conserve about 2,000 miles of trails, 1,000 miles of river and 70,000 acres of open space and parks.

The third project in Montana awarded assistance this year was the creation of a regional park in Missoula. Nationwide, more than 250 communities receive assistance.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628. She is on Twitter at @amandaricker.

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