Parks and Trails Gala celebrates 20 years of community work

EBS STAFF

The annual Parks and Trails Gala returns to the Big Sky Community Park on July 6 at 6 p.m., celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Big Sky Community Organization.

BSCO was founded in 1998 with the name Big Sky Community Corp., but in 2016 the organization changed names to reflect its nonprofit status. Over the years, they have worked to promote recreation with the acquisition of trail property, developing outdoor programs and creating, maintaining and improving area parks and trails.

“Our organization is committed to the vision of a community built around our natural environment that is healthy, active and inclusive,” said BSCO executive director Ciara Wolfe.

Last year, the Parks and Trails Gala raised $195,000, with more than 200 people in attendance.

In addition to a farm-to-table dinner prepared by the Ennis catering company Seasonal Montana, the evening will feature a live auction of items that range from weekend excursions, to a chair from the old Shedhorn lift donated by Big Sky Resort. There will also be approximately 20 silent auction items donated by local businesses and individuals.

Local band The Dirty Shame will conclude the evening with live music beginning at 9 p.m.

Funds from the event will be used to support several BSCO initiatives. These include upgrading the Ousel Falls and Beehive Basin trailheads; creating trail connections throughout the community to be used for recreation, as well as multi-modal transportation; and expand the organization in order to carry out the recently completed 10-year Master Parks and Open Space Plan.

Visit bscomt.org/gala to learn more.

Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk to keynote chamber awards dinner

EBS STAFF

The 21st annual Big Sky Chamber of Commerce dinner and awards ceremony will be held Tuesday, June 26, at 6 p.m. at Buck’s T-4 Lodge.

The evening will include the election of new board members, and recognize significant contributions of the community’s businesses and individuals. An update on the state of the local economy will be given to provide specific information on chamber projects, economic development efforts, and the business outlook, prior to the keynote address by outgoing Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.

Awards to be given include Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Emerging Entrepreneur, Nonprofit Business Person of the Year, and the Chet Huntley Lifetime Achievement Award.

The nominees for this year’s lifetime achievement award are businessman and longtime Big Sky high school basketball coach Al Malinowski, and Glenniss Indreland, the recently retired brand manager for Big Sky Resort.

Visit bigskychamber.com/about/annual-chamber-awards for more information and a full list of award nominees.

Spanish Peaks Mountain Club proposes future development plans

EBS STAFF

On June 18, Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Lone Mountain Land Company hosted an update meeting with club members to discuss future development.

The private club is divided between Madison and Gallatin counties, and development of properties within each county is guided by master development plans. With the Madison County Overall Development Plan set to expire in October, Spanish Peaks is in the process of resubmitting its development plan to the county.

On the Madison County side, the current development plan includes a total of 290 units, of which 92 have been platted, leaving 198 left to be platted and sold. The club is resubmitting this current plan, and if approved, it would be extended for 10 years.

Madison County will accept public comment on the new plan in the coming months, with a final draft slated for the fall.

During the meeting, Lone Mountain Land Company President Alex Iskenderian identified three large efforts taking place at the club this summer, all of which are within Gallatin County.

These include a 40-unit townhome called “Inspiration Point” that is currently being developed; four new lots that will be coming to market this summer under the name “Highlands Reserve,” ranging in size from 10 to 20 acres; and completion of the water storage pond that will irrigate the club golf course.

When asked for an update on the Spanish Peaks hotel project, which remains in the foundation stage, Iskenderian said that significant progress is being made, but they weren’t ready to make an announcement about details.

MSU graduate receives recognition for research on wildlife movement patterns

EBS STAFF

A paper co-authored by Montana State University doctoral graduate Meredith McClure and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Robert Inman recently won the Outstanding Paper Award in Landscape Ecology from the U.S. Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology.

The paper, titled “Connecting models to movements: Testing connectivity model predictions against empirical migration and dispersal data,” was based on McClure’s research, which assessed the accuracy of two predictive models used by wildlife managers in understanding animal movement patterns.

“Landscape level connectivity is a major conservation challenge for the 21st century,” Inman said in a June 20 statement released by FWP. “Secretary Zinke’s recent focus on migration routes is part of that, as is movement between patches of public lands for low-density species like wolverine.

“These are big picture, long-term, expensive conservation actions, and research like this will help make the best use of precious conservation dollars by zeroing in on the most important wildlife travel routes,” he added.

McClure was the lead author of the paper, while co-authors included Inman, who is the carnivore and furbearer coordinator for FWP, and Andrew Hansen, McClure’s adviser and professor of ecology in MSU’s College of Letters and Science.

“We are all honored that the research was recognized as significant,” Inman said in the release.