Story Creek Preserve is a 373± acre sporting property located in the Gallatin Valley north of Belgrade, literally minutes from the airport and an easy drive to all that Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley have to offer. This location, while close to town, is the epicenter of working agricultural operations and recreational retreats-large and small. This part of the Gallatin River watershed is known for its high groundwater table, which supplements a multitude of unsung spring creeks. This property has been developed, creating outstanding waterfowl habitat along with the ability to recruit larger trout from the nearby Gallatin River into the upper reaches of Story Creek. In addition to the water features, the ranch is home to large numbers of whitetail deer and pheasants. The Preserve has been intensively managed for both crops and wildlife with the objective of maximizing wildlife numbers. Story Creek Preserve is truly an “open canvas” waiting for one to create their own vision of the ultimate sporting property.
The sprawl of development quickly gives way to rural appeal as soon as one approaches the property on Swamp Road. The lands extending north, east, and west are all uninterrupted agricultural lands held mainly by landowners who also have strong recreational interests. An unimproved access off Swamp Road allows entry into a cultivated field with the Bridger Mountain Range as the backdrop. The main access entry point is off of Weaver Road, which leads one directly to the shop with a two-bedroom apartment.
The property continues east across the farm ground to the headwaters of Story Creek, which has developed waterfowl ponds, willows, and riparian habitat for wildlife. Continuing east, there is more farm ground with a sizable drainage ditch running southeast to northwest along the eastern boundary. This ditch was recently “daisy chained” to create additional exceptional waterfowl habitat. Fields are planted with tame grasses, alfalfa, and small grains, benefiting all the wildlife.
The land is sporty by nature, and the owner has paid close attention to the stewardship of the property while developing the recreational amenities. That sense is further bolstered by the quantity of wildlife that are apparent. Pheasant, waterfowl, and large racked whitetail deer are generally present in strong numbers.
Views from this central valley location are panoramic, with the Bridger, Spanish Peaks, and Gallatin mountain ranges on the horizon as well as more distant views of ranges outside of the basin.
Story Creek Preserve is an opportunity for one to create a top-tier sporting retreat in one of the West’s most desirable locations. An ideal site for a primary or second home or simply a recreational getaway for a Big Sky or Yellowstone Club owner. This is the perfect opportunity to buy a gem in the sought-after greater Bozeman marketplace.
The property is located within four miles of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which services American, Allegiant, JetBlue, Frontier, Sun Country, Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines, as well as two FBO’s for private air travelers. The town of Belgrade is just two miles further south, the smaller community of Manhattan is eight miles west, and Bozeman is 10 miles east.
Other area attractions include Big Sky Resort/Yellowstone Club, which is a scenic one-hour drive south and a popular destination for winter sports. Yellowstone Park can be accessed from multiple routes within two hours.
The property is accessed at the Airport exit on Interstate 90. One drives past the airport entrance on the paved Dry Creek Road, then west on Weaver Road - a graveled county road into the shop/apartment entrance - and finally north on Swamp Road to a farm gate that allows immediate access into the west field of the Preserve.
The Bozeman area has built a reputation as one of the most desirable communities in which to live in America and is the fourth largest city in Montana. With a current population of approximately 51,000, it offers a vibrant downtown, an active business community with multiple high-tech businesses, Montana State University, and a large agricultural community. In addition, the town boasts a strong social and cultural scene which is enhanced by a population that has moved there to enjoy its beautiful and expansive mountain valley setting that offers virtually every recreational amenity one could ask for in an inland location. Bozeman also serves as the hub to Big Sky Resort which also includes the Yellowstone Club, Spanish Peaks Resort, and Moonlight Basin. This has become a global destination in recent years and has provided a strong economic boost to the local economy. Given its extensive recreational opportunities in general, the Gallatin Valley attracts visitors and residents alike, such as skiers (both Alpine and Nordic), hikers, climbers, explorers, big game hunters, bird hunters, anglers, floaters, kayakers, and Yellowstone National Park visitors, creating a truly diverse population. It has all the benefits of a resort community but very few of its detriments. Its diverse elements ensure this.
Belgrade is a bedroom community of Bozeman, and although its current population is just under 9,000 residents, it has seen substantial growth in recent years. Just six miles from Bozeman, it shares the same amenities and services as Bozeman while also hosting the airport.
Manhattan lies just to the west of Belgrade and has a current population of just over 1,800 residents. Despite its proximity to larger communities, Manhattan embraces the small-town feel and culture stemming from a vibrant agricultural economy. It offers simple yet adequate services, dining, and quality schools. Manhattan is in stark contrast to the valley's urban centers maintaining its small-town appeal because of its residents and ties to agriculture.
The Gallatin Valley experiences four distinct climates. For growers, the valley is categorized as "Zone 4" and has an average growing season of 107 days. The average yearly temperature is a comfortable 56 degrees; however, each season clearly has its own distinct weather pattern. Humidity is relatively low year around, which makes it bearable to be outside even on the hottest or coldest days of the year.
At a base elevation of roughly 4,800 feet, weather is diverse across the valley, particularly with mountain peaks rising to over 10,000 feet surrounding the valley floor and affecting weather patterns.
Winter generally sets in around Thanksgiving and extends into March. With short days, early winter is typically dry and cold, with average temperatures dipping to 13 degrees. Rare high-pressure systems bring in Arctic air that can drop temperatures to below zero. As winter continues, the days start to lengthen, and as is the case with all the seasons, spring announces itself.
Warmer 50-degree days begin to melt the snow on the lower elevations. As April and May arrive, the plants reemerge, and the valleys start to green up. Of course, early spring is also when the mountains, and often the valleys, receive the most snow as the pressure systems collide and bring that last bit of snow precipitation.
June is typically the start of summer and is also one of the most beautiful months as the high-country snows recede and uncover a carpet of wildflowers. The rivers generally carry the melting snowpack out during May/June, and the area remains lush often through July. Dependable daily afternoon rain showers diminish towards August while the temperatures warm to an average of 81 degrees.
Fall usually makes an abrupt announcement of its arrival around mid-September as the mountains receive their first blanketing of snow, which melts quickly. Temperatures continue to cool to very pleasant levels as the fall colors emerge and extend through October. Late fall typically extends through to Thanksgiving, and then winter arrives again.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
The primary improvement on the property is the 60-by-96-foot shop/apartment building. The apartment is two stories with a total of 2,600± square feet, up and down. There are two bedrooms with two full bathrooms upstairs and a living area, including a kitchen, sitting area, bar, and half bathroom downstairs. Outside, on the north side of the structure, is a small patio that looks towards the expansive Bridger Mountain Range. It is the perfect set-up for one who wants a hunting “hang out” while enjoying the recreational aspects of the property, allowing a place to entertain and room for all the “toys.” Additionally, it is about 10 minutes from the Bozeman airport as a stop-over for early morning or late-night flights.
The additional improvements consist of two-grain bins, an open-sided pole shed, and a closed pole shed, which is primarily used for bird raising and with flight pens. The property also is perimeter and cross-fenced for agricultural purposes.
The annual property tax is unknown at this time and will be formulated subject to the survey by the establishment of this parcel of record.
Under current ownership, the ranch has always been about the sporting life, namely whitetail deer and pheasant hunting and, most recently, waterfowl hunting. Many of the surrounding neighbors have similar interests, which makes a positive impact on the wildlife migrating through the area.
Perhaps the single greatest amenity is the water. The immediate area is subject to high groundwater charged by the Gallatin River watershed, of which Story Creek is a part. A multitude of springs emerge throughout this area, creating a variety of prized spring creeks, many of which are high-quality fisheries. The contributing springs, waste irrigation water, and small tributaries on the property creating the headwaters of Story Creek were carefully developed through the counsel of an area hydrologist and aquatic excavation crew. While this is still a work in progress, all the hydrologist’s work is available to a new owner to continue with their own vision to develop the water attributes. It is also possible, with proper permitting, to create a daisy chain of small waterfowl ponds along the existing drainage ditch on the east side of the property.
The existence of the riparian area along the headwaters of Story Creek is excellent habitat for the whitetail deer and strong numbers of pheasant. During average years, wild pheasant hunting is superb. The preserve has the perfect combination of nesting habitat, legumes, grain, water, and thermal refuge to help them survive the winter. Also, being in the center of the valley, the likelihood of hailstorms, which can be devasting to clutches, are relatively rare. If hunted carefully, the pheasant hunting can last through an entire season.
It is easy to see why the deer hunting is so good as one drives onto the ranch. Dozens of deer are often grazing in the cultivated fields. Although there are currently no deer blinds, one could place them strategically in the riparian area with clear views of the cultivated fields. The deer are generally attracted to the abundance of quality food and willows along Story Creek, given shelter and sustenance. Deer in this area have been taken in the 150-160 B&C class. With proper management, this could also be attained at Story Creek Preserve.
Of course, the Gallatin Valley is a mecca for outdoor recreational enthusiasts. Yellowstone National Park is two hours to the south, Big Sky Resort and the Yellowstone Club is an hour south, Bridger Bowl Ski area is 45 minutes east, and dozens of both famous and unsung fishing opportunities exist an hour or less from the property. This would include the fabled Missouri, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison Rivers, to name a few. National Forest access is within minutes of the property.
Mainly the ranch is operated for recreational purposes. This is accomplished by a combination of contracting out the farm ground to be custom hayed and harvested and planting a variety of food plots using a small tractor and implements.
Current agricultural operations find balance with the owner’s recreational needs and desires. The hay fields serve the purpose for nesting birds, but there is a preference for the aesthetics of cut fields with the further benefit of weed mitigation. Fields of barley or wheat are also grown and allow income for the tenant farmer in addition to providing habitat for wildlife.
If one were so inclined, with adequate fencing, one could also graze cattle and horses on the property, although that is currently not being done.
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