Weather Strands Hiker on Bridger Ridge

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Saturday afternoon at 3:47, Gallatin County 911 received a call from a 45-year-old runner from Atlanta.  The runner had started at the Fairy Lake Trailhead with the ambition of running the Ridge trail but found himself disoriented and unsure of his location. He was wearing shorts and did not have a rain coat with him. His call to 911 put his location south of Naya-Nuki Peak.  Sheriff’s Search and Rescue members spoke with him on the phone and determined he was on the east side of the ridge line.  Search and Rescue personnel battled torrential downpours and were able to locate the runner.  He was given warm clothes and was able to hike out under his own power.  Once back to the trailhead the runner told the Deputy that “The professionalism and kindness of this team is amazing.  They encouraged me and really made me laugh on the way out.”  He had taken an Uber to the trailhead so a Deputy gave him a ride back to Bozeman.
Sheriff Gookin says, “It is not unusual for people to underestimate how quickly the weather can change in the back-country.  Always carry a way to stay warm and dry.”  A summer storm can arrive at any time in the mountains of Montana without much warning.
Photos courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

Summer Dehydration on Bridger Ridge

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  Thursday evening at 7:00 911 received a call from a 23 year old mountain biker worried about being dehydrated and thought he might pass out.  The 911 center was not able to pin point his location but knew he was near Sacajawea Peak.  Search and Rescue volunteers were able to contact him by phone and have him use a link sent to his phone to get a better location which turned out to be on the west side of the Bridgers below Sacajawea.  Rescuers hiked up the trail from the Fairy Lake Trailhead to meet up with the biker who was being assisted by two hikers he encountered after the call to 911.  He was severely dehydrated but was able to continue down the trail on his own power.  Search and Rescue personal drove the victim’s vehicle back to Bozeman for him because he did not feel capable of driving.

Sheriff Gookin says,”It is not unusual for people to underestimate the amount of water needed for hiking or biking the Ridge area this time of year.”  Seasoned locals know the dry air, elevation and lack of shade up there requires much more water than you might normally take.  Everyone needs to carry enough provisions for the adventure you are seeking and to remember this is the season of hot temperatures.  He was also like to remind everyone to call for help early before the situation gets dire.

County commission creates Gallatin Valley Tourism Business Improvement District

Gallatin County Commissioners have created an expanded tourism business improvement district that will raise funds to be used to help tourism, promotion and marketing within Gallatin County.

On Tuesday, July 23, the Commission adopted a resolution that officially created the Gallatin Valley Tourism Business Improvement District, which includes hotels in Bozeman, Belgrade and Three Forks.

For the last 10 years, the Bozeman Tourism Business Improvement District has been housed by the City of Bozeman.

With that district set to expire in September, the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce asked Gallatin County to create an expanded district that would be more inclusive and representative of all areas served by the district.

The proposed district includes 30 hotels in Bozeman, four hotels in Belgrade and three hotels in Three Forks. None of the hotel owners protested the creation of the expanded district.

The district collects a $2 fee per night from hotel rooms, which will bring in approximately $1.2 million in Bozeman, $200,000 in Belgrade and $13,000 in Three Forks annually.

In the past, the district has assisted:

  • Bringing five major high school tournaments to the area every year for the past decade
  • Increasing the number of direct flights from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to 17.
  • Supporting more than half of the concerts at Montana State University, including the first outdoor concert at Bobcat Stadium in decades.
  • Raising money to have three Visitor Information Centers in the area.
  • Helping redesign tourism improvement district’s website,
  • Supporting many local tournaments for both youth and adults.

Commissioner Don Seifert noted that while the district has been housed with the city, “it has become apparent that a lot of the tourism business happens in the valley” and expanding the district to include Belgrade and Three Forks is “really a logical place for it to be.”

“On behalf of the Gallatin Valley Tourism Business Improvement District, we look forward to expanding our representation of Gallatin County and appreciate the prompt attention from the Commissioners to all employees that assisted our short time frame to create this district,” said Daryl Schliem, president and CEO of the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to the Commissioners’ support, we will not miss a beat in our marketing of Gallatin County and all it has to offer.”

Media contact:
Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator
406-595-8963 (cell)


Progress Report on Flood Portion of Hazard Mitigation Plan

Gallatin County is a participant in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) Program.  This program offers landowners in County jurisdictional areas a discount on their flood insurance premiums dependent on an evaluation and scoring of the County’s floodplain management program.

Gallatin County is currently categorized as a Class 8 community, which provides up to a 10% discount on flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program.  One of the activities that Gallatin County is currently receiving CRS credit for is the maintenance of the Gallatin County Hazard Mitigation Plan (adopted by FEMA on September 18, 2012).

To continue to receive credit for the Hazard Mitigation Plan we are required to prepare an annual progress report on the flood-related portions of the Hazard Mitigation Plan and provide copies of that update to the governing body and the media.

The attached matrix (see link below) outlines recent activities that support the flood-related goals established in the Hazard Mitigation Plan. This annual progress report was adopted by the Gallatin County All Hazards All Disciplines (AHAD) Group on June 20, 2019. Please contact Sean O’Callaghan with any questions.

Sean O’Callaghan, CFM, Floodplain Administrator
Gallatin County Department of Planning & Community Development
(406) 582-3130

Hazard Mitigation Plan Annual Report 2019


Rescue in Corbley Gulch

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

On Sunday, July 21st, around 2:24 pm, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to a backcountry rescue in the Bridger Mountains.  A 24-year-old, who was hiking alone about four miles from the Corbley Gulch Trailhead, injured her ankle.  She was unable to continue on her own power.  She contacted other recreationalists in the area who called search and rescue when they reached cell phone service.

Two motorcyclists, who came across the injured hiker, began driving her towards the trailhead.  They met responding rescue crews on the trail.  The motorcyclists transferred the hiker to rescue personnel, who transported her the rest of the way to the trailhead via a specialized rescue litter.  The hiker was able to drive herself once she was back to her car.

Sheriff Gootkin said “It’s the little things that can get you in the back country.”  Even the most prepared people can find themselves in need of a little help when out getting fresh air and exercise.  He reminds hikers to always tell someone where you are going and when you are expected to return.  We are glad to give people a hand if they have a bad day but we have to know you need it and where you are before we can.

Climbing Accident Claims Search and Rescue Member

(Gallatin and Park County Mont.)  With a heavy heart, Sheriff Brian Gootkin and Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue share that our friend and teammate Travis Swanson lost his life in a climbing accident yesterday on Mount Cowen in Park County. Travis was climbing with fellow SAR members Jackson Negri and Will Hitchcock when rockfall swept Will and Travis downslope. Jackson contacted Park County Sheriff’s Office and Gallatin County SAR teammates, who responded with specialized alpine rescue resources. With Jackson’s help, they were able to rescue Will and recover Travis.  Will is currently at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings with stable injuries.

All three climbers were extricated by GCSAR with able assistance from Park County. The highly complex rescue was executed in a skilled and efficient manner that would have made Travis proud. Travis was a significant contributor to the Alpine and Helicopter rescue teams and we owe a part of the team’s performance to the many efforts that he put into Search & Rescue. He loved spending time with friends doing things that allowed him  to excel at saving others. He demonstrated the highest level of teamwork and commitment. When good days went bad, Travis was always there to help his community.

We thank Park County for allowing us the privilege of being able to recover one of our own. We also thank Park County Sheriff, Search and Rescue, Park County Rural Fire, and Livingston Fire and Rescue for their response.

Dahl’s Funeral Home is organizing memorial arrangements.


Media Contact: Sheriff Brian Gootkin 582-2125

Photographs courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff

Travis Swanson, by Speed/Coaching + Creative

Travis Swanson during a rescue operation on Granite Peak in 2016.

Weekend Search and Rescue Activity

(Gallatin County, Mont.) The last weekend in June saw 80 Search and Rescue Volunteers spend 285 hours on three incidents. The first incident was Saturday evening when Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Central Valley Fire were dispatched to an injured hiker in the Truman Gulch area.  The 27-year-old Bozeman woman was hiking with her fiancé and dog when she injured her knee.  When she could go no further her fiancé carried her. The terrain eventually became so steep that they could no longer make progress and he went to find help. Rescuers used a wheeled stretcher and rope belays to bring her down to a waiting Central Valley Ambulance, which took her to the hospital.  Sunday afternoon found SAR on the Gallatin River near Gateway, using boats and tracking skills to help Sheriff’s Detectives on a case. Later Sunday evening, three women and their dog had rafted from Spanish Creek past Gallatin Gateway when their raft crashed, spitting two of them and the dog out onto an island that they could not get off and the third onto shore.  Rescuers had limited access to the area and fading daylight but with the help of a landowner were able to get the women and dog back to safety. No injuries were reported. Sheriff Gootkin thanks all the dedicated volunteers who took time from their weekend to help keep people safe and support the active, outdoor lifestyle this community values.


Photo of rescue in Truman courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office