Glampground on the Gallatin: New development in the floodplain is bad for the river

A Gallatin Gateway landowner is asking Gallatin County permission to build a glamorous campground (“Glampground”) retreat facility on the bank of the Gallatin River with 63 sites that will include running water, sewage, power and gas utilities, as well as a new access road through undeveloped land.

The proposal describes the use of Conestoga wagons, typical RVs, park model RVs, and tiny houses that will be rented or leased as vacation homes for varying timeframes. Each wall tent and wagon would include a bathroom and small kitchenette and the property would include a tiki bar, patio lounge, and children’s playground. The applicant’s property and the proposed development would be almost fully situated within the 100-year floodplain of the Gallatin River. The proposed new road would route primary client traffic through the community of Gallatin Gateway to the larger arterial roadway of Highway 191.

Floodplain, Wrong Place

The bank of a sensitive waterway is the wrong location for this type of project and it’s no surprise the proposal has received widespread public opposition over the past year. The Gallatin County Planning Board now has to decide whether or not to permit this project in the floodplain and whether or not it constitutes a subdivision. Last week, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, alongside Protect the Gallatin River, American Rivers, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Trout Unlimited, Simms Fishing Products, Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited, and Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM), voiced public concerns opposing the Glampground and together the groups are empowering local citizens in standing up for the river. Upper Missouri Waterkeeper also submitted technical comments (click here to read those) regarding our serious concerns about the water resource impacts the Glampground would have on sensitive floodplains. In short, the proposed Glampground violates the letter and spirit of Gallatin County’s floodplain ordinance and therefore should be denied.

Subdivision Review Required

The planned Glampground would include infrastructure identical to that traditionally required for a Montana small subdivision, and allow for the high-density use of RVs and semi-permanent dwellings. These characteristics mean the Glampground appears to qualify as a non-traditional subdivision that requires thorough vetting under state planning law (Montana Subdivision and Platting Act), including a thorough environmental review process and opportunities for public participation. Nevertheless, at this time neither Gallatin County nor Montana Dept of Environmental Quality have made public findings concerning the Glampground’s compliance with the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act (MSPA).

Today, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Protect the Gallatin River, American Rivers, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Trout Unlimited, FOAM, Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited, and Simms Fishing Products are filing a petition to the Gallatin County Planning Board to formally make a finding concerning whether the Glampground is in fact a subdivision. If the Glampground is found to be a non-traditional subdivision, as we believe the facts indicate, we also petitioned the County to initiate the mandated review process under the MSPA. A project of this nature and with likely direct impacts on the bank of the ecologically sensitive Gallatin River must be throughly vetted prior to authorization.

Please take a moment to read our petition and consider sending an email to the Gallatin County Planning Board voicing your support for the County undertaking a full subdivision review of the Glampground Project. Click here to see suggested talking points for your email. The next Gallatin County Planning Board meeting is Tuesday, January 12th – make sure your voice is heard: the Gallatin River can’t speak for itself.

Cover photo credit: Mike Chilcoat