Made Possible by Many for the Benefit of All

May 20, 2021

By Hannah Overton, Development and Communications Coordinator

I did not know there was a difference between the Sourdough Trail and the Sourdough Canyon Trail until I attended an outdoor theater event at Tuckerman Park last summer. In August 2020, Mountain Time Arts presented a free public art experience on Sourdough Trail called The Creek Between Us.  I had hiked and skied the Sourdough Canyon Trail many times, but the Tuckerman Park area was a totally mystery to me. A friend and I met at Graf Park and biked the Sourdough Trail toward the Tuckerman Park parking lot on Goldenstein Lane where the performance would begin.

An article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle from November 1999 mused that, “Cities’ histories, not just Bozeman’s, but all cities’, are littered with missed chances to acquire valuable public parklands when opportunity knocked. The green space that area residents are fighting for in Sundance Springs could be one of those chances that will look like a bargain in hindsight.”

In 1999, the community crusade to purchase the area now known as Tuckerman Park from a residential developer had already been underway since 1994. Spearheaded by Lisa and Russ Tuckerman – who pledged $50,000 of their own money – the project aimed to help the City of Bozeman acquire a 10-acre buffer between Sourdough Trail and the Sundance Springs residential subdivision.

“Russ proposed the idea to the developer,” Lisa said. “They agreed if we could raise the money by a certain date, they would rework the layout of that east side of the subdivision.”

“We recognize that the value per acre of this project is very high, putting a stress on resources that might otherwise be directed elsewhere,” Russ and Lisa said in a 1999 guest column in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “Nonetheless, we also believe the integrity of the stream, wildlife and trail corridor from Bozeman Creek to town is very important to the overall health of Bozeman as a community.”

The generous donation from the Tuckermans, a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, funding from Gallatin County, City of Bozeman, and the support of 449 residents and businesses contributed to the purchase of the 10-acre property. The park was open to the public in 2001.

“I think we paid about $29,000 per acre for those 10 acres,” Lisa said. “I did a quick search for lots in the 59715-zip code in 2021. They range from $425,000 per acre slightly east of town between Kagy and Frontage road to $1 million-plus for some smaller sub-acreage pieces. This was a return on investment the community will forever enjoy.”

Twenty years later, Tuckerman Park is a popular recreation site for hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing, and the occasional performance art piece. It serves as a wildlife corridor that protects both Sourdough Creek and Nash Spring Creek, and provides a safe route for young students commuting to and from Sacajawea Middle School. Artists, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyone in between can enjoy this special place and its access to Sourdough Trail.

Lisa and Russ Tuckerman continue to walk the park regularly and are always thrilled to see the number of users, hear the birds, see the fish and the amazing quality of the rehabilitated section of Bozeman and Nash Spring Creeks.

“It has been an indispensable addition to the parkland and trails on the south side of town,” Lisa said. “We would encourage anyone interested in increasing trails and open spaces to jump on these opportunities as they arise. Because once developed, you can never go back.”

This year for National Trails Day, we are celebrating Tuckerman Park’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate, we have identified a series of projects to keep the park, and the nearby trails, in tip top shape. Click here to review the projects and sign up yourself, your friends and your family for some fun on the trails!