Bozeman Creek Realignment at Bogert Park

From left, Jeff Graff, Trails, Open Space and Parks Manager for City of Bozeman, Gary Weiner of National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance and Ty Traxler Water Resources Engineer at Confluence Consulting discuss plans for the enhancement of Bozeman Creek at Bogert Park on Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Bozeman.

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Chronicle

Efforts to return Bozeman Creek to a more natural state are flowing in Bogert Park.

A month after the Bozeman City Commission approved spending up to $440,000 from the Trails, Open Space and Parks Bond, the project's design and engineering work are underway and information is being gathered to firm up final plans.

“We're trying to do this in a manner and time of year that has as little impact on public use as possible,” said Mitch Overton, the city's parks and recreation director.

While the timeline for the project is still up in air, the city hopes to begin construction in late fall, Overton said. Between now and then, a design will be finalized and permits obtained from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Army Corps of Engineers and others, city project engineer Brian Heaston said.

“It's a fairly robust stream permitting process,” Heaston said.

The project's goal is to reconstruct the creek to return it to more natural and ecologically productive condition, adding floodplain and streamside vegetation, improving safety during spring run-off and developing healthier habitat for fish and wildlife.

The project calls for channel and floodplain construction, relocating utilities and irrigation, building a new bridge and other improvements.

Orange construction markers and overturned dirt show signs of the project's progress between the Bogert Park pavilion and Bozeman Creek. That's where sampling was done to determine how far the floodplain could be expanded east of the creek, toward the pavilion.

However, plans to expand the floodplain in that direction were bagged after it was determined that any expansion in that area could threaten the structural integrity of the pavilion, said Ty Traxler, a civil engineer with Confluence Consulting.

Alternative plans to widen the floodplain are now in the final design stage, Traxler said. The city has contracted with Confluence Consulting for the final design work.

“The general concept is that the widening will mostly be in the floodplain and expanding that capacity,” Traxler said.

Plans also call for adding two meanders to the stream where it passes through Bogert Park.

Because the stream was previously channelized and moved from its natural location, “it doesn't act or behave like a natural waterway,” Heaston said. “The meanders will add more of a natural stream functionality.”

Years ago, developers narrowed and straightened the creek. Now, current city leaders are working to undo that work.

“If the project is successful, it would serve as really a showpiece to what Bozeman Creek could look like,” Overton said.

The project is expected to cost about $600,000. It is being funded by a $100,000 grant from the Montana Department of Natural Resources Grant Program. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust is putting in $20,000, according to Overton. Grants are being applied for, totaling $190,000. Depending on how much grant money is received, it could reduce the amount of bond money planned for the project. In December, city commissioners unanimously approved spending up to $440,000 from the bond on the project.

Erin Schattauer can be reached at 582-2628 or She's on Twitter at @erinschattauer.