Bozeman’s new nature sanctuary will be off-limits to dogs.

The 60-acre Story Mill Park is set to open later this month. Bozeman parks planner Addi Jadin said a nature preserve with wetlands habitat — about 40 acres of the park — will be dog-free.

“Hundreds of different bird species are nesting in that area,” Jadin said. “Particularly the cranes, they are especially delicate when they’re nesting, when they are first hatched and are practicing getting their legs under them.”

City commissioners approved the rule Monday, which follows the park’s master plan.

To build the park, the city of Bozeman contributed $4.5 million through voter-approved bonds, and the Trust for Public Land — leading the project — collected $11.8 million from donors.

Jadin said the design process balanced the sanctuary and “of course our love of dogs and a need for a dog park.”

Along with the new fenced-in dog park, Story Mill will have a sledding hill, playgrounds, gardens and fishing spots. The dog restrictions won’t include the Story Mill Spur Trail, which bisects the park.

City staff said the rules will come with a price as animal control officers will have to cover more territory.

Commissioner Jeff Krauss said if the city adds Story Mill to its patrols for dogs, it needs to keep up with the task. Last year, Bozeman increased how many hours animal control officers work.

“I love wildlife, too, so I like the idea of areas where the dogs don’t harass the wildlife,” Krauss said. “I think if we’re going to up our game on off-leash and dog-free, we better anticipate more enforcement in the future.”

Mayor Cyndy Andrus suggested an animal control officer attend the park’s grand opening July 20 to explain the rules to people early on.

Final adoption for the rules is set for July 15. That will kick off a 30-day waiting period before the restrictions are in place August 14.

Commissioners also made it official Monday that dogs can roam off leash at the Lewis and Bark Dog Park at Bozeman Pond Park.

The place for dogs was part of an expansion to the now 16-acre park west of the Gallatin Valley Mall. Staff said while the project wrapped up a few years ago, the off-leash area never officially made it onto the city’s list.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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