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Bozeman has one of the best dog parks in Montana and improvements recently completed there just solidified that, according to the head of the nonprofit that maintains the park.

Renovations were recently completed at Anderson Dog Park at the Gallatin County Regional Park, including changes to the popular dog beach and the addition of new trails.

Terry Cunningham, director of Run Dog Run, which is responsible for the park, said he’s confident in calling it the best dog park in the state because of the space and amenities it offers. He estimated the park spans 143 acres and has ponds, diving boards, agility and fetch areas, and a separate area for puppies and smaller dogs.

Since the nonprofit acquired the land for the park in 2014, he said, Emma’s beach, named after a dog whose donor has contributed up to $20,000, has become the most popular portion of the park. With that, Cunningham said, came heavy use, causing the sand to slip into the pond and the need to improve the amenity.

“A lot of the sand had washed down the slope into the pond,” he said. “The beach had sort of, because there wasn’t a fence around it, morphed into surrounding areas and just became sort of beaten down and rather unpleasant.”

Gravel now lines the re-contoured beach and doesn’t slide into the water.

Cunningham, who also serves as a Bozeman city commission, said Gallatin County paid for bringing electricity to the pond for a water compressor that keeps the water circulating and slows algae growth.

The area is also enclosed with an attractive fence that features design elements found throughout the park. Cunningham said the fence was built for visitors who didn’t want their dogs “participating in the beach and getting into the water.”

The park features more trails to the popular waterhole. Cunningham said people created shortcuts to get to the pond, so the organization installed “trail spurs” based on where people were walking.

“It’s very obvious where people wanted a trail, and, so rather than trying to fight that, we said, ‘What a great place for a trail,’” he said.

Cunningham said his organization built the dog park to reduce conflicts between dog owners who let their dogs off leash and people using parks and trails in the city.

Another reason for the dog park, he said, is because Bozeman is a “dog-crazy town,” and the nonprofit wanted to create an opportunity for dog owners to let their dogs loose.

He said that experience provides benefits for socializing dogs and creating a community for dog owners. Cunningham said he sees people forming friendships and making play dates all the time.

“I will say that when I started Run Dog Run, I thought I was building dog parks,” Cunningham said, “and, it turns out, that we’re building community.”

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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