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News in Brief: Oct. 27, 2017

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Spanish Peaks Community Foundation grants $59,000 in fall cycle

Deadline for Moonlight Club Community Foundation is Nov. 15


Spanish Peaks Community Foundation completed its 2017 fall granting round on Oct. 1.

Beginning Oct. 23, specific entities receiving SPCF grants include the Arts Council of Big Sky, Big Sky School District, Big Sky Food Bank, Big Sky Discovery Academy, Big Sky Parent Teacher Organization, Casting for Recovery, Eagle Mount Big Sky Ski Program, Friends of Big Sky Education, Gallatin River Task Force, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Morningstar Learning Center, and Strings Under the Big Sky.

“It was great to see the determination process by the board of directors for this round,” said Tarsha Ebbern, the foundation’s executive director. “SPCF board members are very engaged in their community and their in-depth local knowledge really helps determine the immediate needs of Big Sky residents.”

The Moonlight Community Foundation is still accepting grant applications through Nov. 15. To apply, visit or email

For more information about the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation visit

Ultra-exclusive ski area opens in Colorado


A new private skiing community has opened in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, tucked between Telluride and Crested Butte. Taking the name Cimarron Mountain Club, this membership-based community will be reserved as a small and intimate club with only 15 memberships available.

Jim Aronstein, a former natural resources attorney and the man who started the vision, is working with Northview Hotels and Resorts to develop the property. The developers say that CMC is intended to be a wilderness refuge, and will retain a wilderness atmosphere without chairlifts or paved roads.

In the winter, the gravel roads will be groomed, but not plowed, meaning that access to CMC during the winter months will be via over-snow vehicles only. Members will need to use the club’s snowcats, snowmobiles or SUVs and passenger vans outfitted with snow tracks.

CMC will be a private ski area bigger than Aspen Mountain, offering 1,000 skiable acres with 1,640 feet of vertical terrain and more than 60 different ski runs. There is also skiing access on 950 acres of adjacent public lands and heli-skiing provided by a Telluride-based operation.

There will also be groomed cross country ski trails and fishing and mountain biking opportunities in the summer. Memberships for CMC are available starting at approximately $3 million and three of the 15 available are already committed. The three four-bedroom Club Cabins at Cimarron will be completed by the start of the 2018-2019 winter season, weather permitting.

County to update emergency plans for wildfire, disaster response


BIG SKY – Gallatin County is in the process of updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan and Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Introductory meetings were held throughout the county between Oct. 12 and 24 and more in-depth meetings to discuss community concerns and desires will be held closer to February. A draft is anticipated in the spring and will be adopted next fall following approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The plans are countywide documents that outline actions to mitigate incidents like wildfire, flood or hazardous material spills. The CWPP is specific to wildfires and the plan directly impacts actions taken by the U.S. Forest Service.

Every five years, federal law requires that local governments update their HMP. The current plan was revised in 2012. The update process will also cover the CWPP from 2006, weaving the two hazard plans together.

Grants to help fund pre-disaster actions that mitigate threats, and funding to support recovery efforts are only eligible to areas that have hazard plans and have participated in pre-disaster efforts.

Director of Gallatin County Emergency Management Patrick Lonergan said at an Oct. 12 meeting in Big Sky that he hopes this new plan will go a step further than the 2012 plan that identifies county-wide hazards by also assessing hazard risk in specific areas within the county.

“We want to be able to identify what the top hazards are for Big Sky, what the top hazards are for West Yellowstone, for Bozeman,” Lonergan said, adding, “Now we need people from Big Sky to come in and say, ‘Well this is what matters to us.’”

Visit for more information on the hazard mitigation plan update.

Defining Big Sky’s DNA

Visit Big Sky lays foundation for Tourism Master Plan


What is Big Sky’s DNA? That’s what 40 invited members of the Big Sky community attempted to uncover during an Oct. 18 brainstorming workshop, led by global branding consulting firm Destination Think!. The findings, which will also take into account the results of a public survey to be launched by Visit Big Sky in coming weeks, will form the foundation of a strategic plan to increase tourism to the area.

Senior Strategic Consultant Frank Cypers facilitated small break-out groups where attendees—tourism industry leaders, hospitality personnel, and key figures in politics, business, real estate development, arts, academia and recreation—were asked questions designed to distill Big Sky’s unique identity.

“It’s who you are, it’s what you love; it’s a sense of a place,” Cypers said. “And then, how you are projecting this to the rest of the world, and how it is being perceived?”

The playful approach started with yes and no questions and statements like, “Is Big Sky sexy?” and, “Big Sky is better than Jackson Hole,” followed by more involved questions such as, “What would the rest of the world miss if Big Sky didn’t exist?”

Visit Big Sky CEO Candace Carr Strauss said Big Sky’s identity must be refined before it can be successfully marketed as a tourism destination.

“If we don’t know who we are, how do we build a marketing strategy?” Strauss said, adding that the work they are doing with Destination Think! is essentially starting at ground zero. “[It’s figuring out] where we are, who we are, where we want to be—and how we get there.”

Visit Big Sky aims to have the Tourism Master Plan completed in February 2018.

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