Recently, the great county of Gallatin has re-circulated a fantastic document entitled 'Code Of The New West'. This document was originally written in 2002, when the population in Bozeman was only about 30,000, the average cost of building a single-family home was a mere $127,000, and the local crime rate was higher than national average. (source) Bozeman was a different town than it is today. Something had just started happening, however. People from across the country (world, really) were starting to take notice of our little slice of paradise and (gasp) MOVING HERE. Some even had the audacity to move to the Gallatin Valley from urban areas where they were accustomed to amenities such as grocery store on every corner, a curb-side trash service, paved roads, and... snow removal services. The problem was, Montana was (and still is) quite "wild". Montanans were self-sufficient people who knew that winters were long and cold, paved roads could be considered a luxury, and living in a rural area, in particular, meant planning ahead where groceries were concerned, because there's a high probability of being snowed in during winter months.
The 'Code Of The New West' was Gallatin County's answer to frequent complaints from new-comers regarding things like street maintenance (or lack, thereof) and poor electrical service. It was posted in government offices across the county.
Bozeman has come a very long way in a short 14 years. Some native Montanans view this as a bad thing, some as a very good thing. For starters, 2002 marked the beginning of a population boom. Today, Bozeman itself (not counting MSU - Bozeman student population nor that of its surrounding areas) has a population of nearly 40,000. This spike in population has brought with it revenue, a better infrastructure, culture, tons of outstanding small businesses- oh, and a MUCH lower crime rate, just for starters.
Lest we not forget where we started, however, here are a few of our favorite lines from 'Code Of The New West'.
"Emergency response times (sheriff, fire, ambulance, etc.,) cannot be guaranteed."
"In extreme weather even County-maintained roads can become impassable. You may need a four-wheel drive vehicle with chains to travel on some snow-packed roads... living in a rural area means developing special driving skills and good judgment."
"Don't expect neighbors to join a petition asking for improved service from the county..."
"If your road is unpaved, it is highly unlikely that Gallatin County will pave it in the foreseeable future..."
"Sometimes it may seem we're still in the days of the Pony Express. Don't expect the same urban efficiency with regards to mail, newspaper and other delivery services."
"You may be provided with a plat of your property. Do not assume the plat is accurate..."
Click here to read Gallatin County's 'Code Of The New West' in its entirety.