BSCC Gala to raise funds for parks and trails

By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

BIG SKY – From building new trails and another pavilion, to adding two new climbing boulders, the Big Sky Community Corp. has a full plate this summer.

It’s nothing new: Last year the nonprofit parks and trails organization built a skatepark and a climbing boulder in its community park, both of which have seen significant use already.

What is new: BSCC obtained approximately eight miles of trail easements BSCC from the Simkins family on June 4.

The plan is to construct “a looping trail system” from the Town Center area along Grey Drake Road to the Ousel Falls Trail, on the south side of the South Fork, said BSCC Executive Director Jessie Wiese.

Wiese says the organization plans to build three miles of that new trail system this summer, using $24,000 in resort tax money and $13,000 from its own fundraising.

The community park, administered by BSCC, is also slated for improvements.

Since June, Stronghold Fabrication has been building the artificial boulders in the park. The Big Sky Rotary Club funded the $43,000 climbing rocks, as well as last year’s $35,000 boulder. The structures should be complete before the upcoming BSCC fundraising Gala on July 27, Wiese said.

Big Sky Landscaping plans to install sod and irrigation in the area around the boulders starting in mid-July and have it complete by the end of August. Langlas and Associates will start construction on a second pavilion Aug. 26.

“The park fields are booked almost every day this summer, as is our pavilion,” Wiese said. “Every time I go down there, I increasingly feel like we have a community here.”

The BSCC’s July 4 celebration exemplified this sense of community.

Organized by the parks committee and held in the community park, the event included a skatepark jam, various trail running and tennis events for children and adults, a fly casting clinic, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, an all-star softball game, a disc golf tournament, an obstacle course, a dunk tank, kids activities, and of course, lunch.

Also a fundraiser for BSCC, the celebration raised more than $5,000, which will go toward park improvement projects.

Now in its second year, the Gala has a similar sense of community, Wiese said, although a different atmosphere.

With 200 attendees last year, the event raised more than $100,000.

“This year we want to surpass that significantly,” Wiese said. As of July 10, there were only 25 tickets left, and more than $100,000 in auction items had been donated.

Gala proceeds go toward new projects, Wiese said, pointing toward improvements to the community park and the South Fork trail system as this year’s priorities, as well as toward mapping a trail that will eventually connect the mountain and meadow areas of Big Sky.

“We build that sense of community by building the infrastructure for people to come together,” Wiese said. “With the Gala, community members are allowing us to make this progress and build these things here. That makes it even more special.”