News & Notes: Fall 2023

lowercase m

Happenings around the Bozone.

Lowering Expectations
In response to hikers getting lost on the M trail, the City of Bozeman announced plans to create a shorter alternative hike, approximately 700 feet long with an elevation gain of 31 inches, that will access a lowercase “m.” Painted white, just like the capital M, it will hopefully keep hikers with limited outdoor experience off the main trail. “We’re stretched thin,” says Aiden Doaps, head of Gallatin Search & Rescue. “We’ve been responding to constant emergency calls from lost hikers, mostly from Texas and California, who wouldn’t know a juniper from a jackwagon. Heck, just last week we received a 911 call from someone who got lost during the Art Walk.” The city also plans to allocate funds for emergency phones along the trail. The phone boxes will contain MREs and space blankets, should SAR be indisposed by sunburn calls at Bozeman Beach. Volunteer with trail-building efforts at

Reroute Reversal
After TripAdvisor recently rated the Gallatin the “best place in Montana to witness an algae bloom,” Outside Bozeman has successfully petitioned to postpone the planned reroute of the river through Bozeman. The $12-trillion diversion aimed to enhance the natural values of Bozeman, while increasing property values along the waterway with a new real-estate draw: drift-in, drift-out river access. However, the new report refutes those purported benefits. “Nobody wants nasty water,” says publisher Miguel Englandez. “Not even those rubes in the three-million-dollar condos with I-drive-a-Lexus hairstyles.” In the meantime, plans are in the works to divert half of the Yellowstone River instead, by punching an aqueduct tunnel through Bozeman Pass. This would increase the flow of the East Gallatin by 1,000%, which has prompted an appeal to rename Gallatin River Ranch “Two Forks & a Silver Spoon.” See the proposed plan at

Yellowstone River reroute map

Noise Cancellation
After years of lamenting the use of headphones and portable speakers on area trails, the grassroots movement Negating Asshats That Undermine Recreationists’ Experience (NATURE) has successfully petitioned to impose restrictions on sound-generating devices within the jurisdiction of the Gallatin Ranger District and municipal trails. Noise, that is, generated by electronic devices worn either in-ear or on-backpack. “We shouldn’t even have to say it,” asserts Walker N. Silents, “but getting out on our trails is about connecting with nature. If you want to blast tunes and work out, go to the gym or a punk-rock concert.” Silents sees this as a win not only for those annoyed by hearing the newest Taylor Swift song in the backcountry for the umpteenth time, but also for bikers who repeatedly yell, to no avail, “On your left!” when passing headphone-sporting joggers. To increase the chances of the petition passing, the restriction is limited to peak trail season: June 16 – November 1. The remainder of the year, music will be allowed on trails, but under the following genre-based timeshare: Mondays, classic rock; Tuesdays, hip-hop; Wednesday mornings, real country; Wednesday afternoons, pop musicians in cowboy hats posing as country singers; Thursday, Broadway show tunes; Friday, gangsta rap (only for the comic value of seeing women in Lululemon trying to act gangster); Saturday, Delta blues; Sunday, all genres except anything by Nickelback, Toby Keith, or Cardi B. See the full restriction at

Headphone trail restrictions

Arson as Job Security
The Forest Service is conducting an internal investigation to determine which wildland firefighters intentionally lit blazes in the Bozeman area after a slow start to fire season. A preliminary report released to Outside Bozeman suggests that fire crews chipped in a small portion of their salaries to a secret slush fund for those brave enough to carry the torch. To shed light on such a brazen scheme, we chatted with longtime firefighter Ben Sparken. “It’s difficult to secure conclusive proof in these situations,” Sparken explains. “Our forests are huge—a guy can spray some lighter fluid, toss a match, then be home watching Backdraft before the fire is even reported. I mean, a guy could, if he wanted to.” The deeper the investigation goes, the more systemic the issue appears to be. Rumors are circulating that top brass in the Department of Agriculture have been skimming a share of the earnings, funneling the money through offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, then scrubbing it through a lingerie store in Miles City. Read the full report at

Cub Scouts
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Plants approved a measure to open an archery grizzly season this fall, for youth hunters 12 and under. “The commission thought it would be a good way to reduce burgeoning populations,” remarked FWP director Justin Dimple, “especially around Bozeman, where numbers are through the roof lately. Teachers—I mean, biologists are having a hard time keeping up.” Although the season hasn’t yet started, folks appear to be excited about the new opportunity. “I’ve been practicing my close-range shots all summer,” exclaimed 11-year-old Rip Dinhaff, the recipient of one of the first grizzly tags to be issued since 1991. To provide assistance once the season opens, Rip’s friend and hunting partner, Tor Napart, has completed a Wilderness First Aid course, developing competence with a tourniquet and makeshift splints. Find a complete copy of the regulations at