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Letter from the Publisher: Shaping the future of Big Sky

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Warren Miller shares his tales and perspectives with a few of the original staff members, including Eric Ladd, on the famous “Ching Forest” ski run at the Yellowstone Club. PHOTO BY TRAVIS ANDERSEN

By Eric Ladd

I came to Big Sky in 1999 via my good friend Warren Miller. While working in Colorado, Warren enticed me to fly to Bozeman where he and his dog Bueller met me at the small regional airport. After navigating dirt roads to what is now the Yellowstone Club followed by a day of skiing with YC founder Tim Blixseth, Stein Eriksen and Warren, I came to grasp the vision of building the new ski club and the vast potential of the Big Sky area. Warren convinced me to move to Montana when he said, “Eric, never again in your life are you going to see and be part of a ski town being built from ground up.” We couldn’t have imagined the breakneck speed and impact of the billions of dollars spent in development over the past 23 years. Big Sky has become a household name, a plot contributor of the show “Yellowstone” and regularly featured in national news and notable publications.   

Having visited almost every notable ski town in the world during his over 50-year career making ski films, Warren understood the importance of thriving local business owners, a well-crafted story and development plans that care for the natural surroundings. Watch any one of his 750 films and you will see Warren use the art of storytelling to celebrate the heartbeat of a town and the people who call it home.

The start of a new calendar year is a good time to reflect and to get involved in helping build a strong community. What kind of town do we want to build? What are we going to be known for? What legacy will we create for future generations? Many readers may not realize that Big Sky does not have an organized government, more so we are governed by two different counties with arms-length involvement. The gap of leadership is left to be filled by nonprofit boards, volunteers and organized efforts to address citizen concerns. We have some big accomplishments to celebrate as a community—including the amazing facilities like BASE, Lone Peak High School and the hospital—but much more is needed.

In the past 20 years Big Sky has done an amazing job of building ski resorts, homes and hotels making up one of the largest real estate booms in modern day history. But the time has come to focus the next 20 years on building a sustainable community. A community that takes care of our own, houses and cares for the hard-working staff who run our businesses, as well as puts nature, open lands and its animal inhabitants as a priority, makes clean water mandatory and builds sustainable infrastructure to handle growth. Sustainable growth and conservation can coexist and Big Sky should be a model for achieving it. Some of the most brilliant business minds in the world now call Big Sky home, it seems fitting to capture this invested knowledge and harness it towards sustainable development of our region.

This past week Outlaw Partners (EBS’s parent company) hosted the “Best of Big Sky” awards which celebrated 45 hardworking, deserving businesses, charities and locals who extend extra effort in making Big Sky a special place to live. This celebration was a great example of celebrating the good within our community and the positive outcomes from working together and supporting each other (a list of the winners can be found here). 

Help build a community you’re proud to live in. Get involved and make an impact:

  1. Volunteer or donate to the local nonprofits.
  2. Get involved in the local events, town hall meetings and submit your opinions or concerns by emailing
  3. Support local events, shop local and lend a hand at community events.

Warren was right. Never again in my life will I have the opportunity to see a town like Big Sky get built. But what Warren didn’t tell me was the weight and importance of my actions within this growth curve. I urge us all to make the turning of a calendar year a start line to shift our focus to building community. I’m committing the resources of my company to make the legacy of the Big Sky community one we can be proud of 20 years from now, and I urge you to do the same. Your voice matters, your opinions matter, your ideas and actions matter. The time has come to use them. 

After all, as Warren Miller was famously quoted thousands of times, “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”


Eric Ladd

Chairman and Publisher Outlaw Partners

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