There are many at the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) who would argue the center of Bozeman actually lies in a quiet corner southeast of town. The heart, the very essence of a city, may not be Main Street or the MSU campus but Peets Hill. Peets Hill is a popular public park just over 40 acres in size. It has long been a staple and local favorite, having been beloved and adored by the citizens of Bozeman for decades. But that legacy was called into controversy in July of this year, when a 12 acre parcel at the south end of Peets Hill went up for sale and its future put up for bidding.
The majority of the public may assume this portion of Peets Hill is already a public park under city ownership. However, even though it’s connected to the park, it is not technically a part of it. This parcel would formally increase the size of Peets Hill/Burke Park by 30% and provide an established trail from Peets Hill to Kagy Boulevard. The GVLT, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting the city’s parks and outdoor spaces, was initially outbid by developers looking to commercialize the land. The developers eventually withdrew, opening the door for GVLT to successfully submit an offer. Now, they find themselves fighting to raise as much as $1.6 million to close on the land in January.
EJ Porth, Associate Director of the GVLT, offered her insight into the situation. “Real estate transactions is what we’re really good at. We want to be able to purchase and turn over these 12 acres to the city, in order to best protect and preserve it,” Porth said.
Porth also made a point to stress the importance of the park to the Bozeman area. “It’s the crown jewel of our parks, and it’s the spine of our community. It holds a lot of special memories for people. It’s where the heart of soul of this city is. It’s where you understand what it means to live in Bozeman,” Porth said.
The park also provides valued recreational space close to campus for students at MSU. “Students forget how many great trails there are. It’s a great place for students to go to clear their minds and watch the sunset,” she said.
The GVLT aims to ensure this area stays a park. The organization is asking for donations of any amount, which can be given through the GVLT’s website at https://gvlt.org/peets-hill-campaign/
Bozeman is truly an outdoor haven, and Peets Hill is quite representative of the town’s affinity for being outside. As Bozeman grows rapidly, land is becoming a point of conservation and an important part of what makes this area great.