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Custer Gallatin National Forests starts forest plan revision


Lisa Stoeffler, the district ranger in Bozeman, outlines the forest plan revision process on March 3 in Big Sky. PHOTO BY AMANDA EGGERT


The Custer Gallatin National Forest has undergone big changes since its forest plan was drafted more than 25 years ago: landscape-level wildfires, a huge growth in invasive weeds, significant changes in land ownership patterns, and a sharp increase in visitors.

The Forest is now in the early stages of rewriting its forest plan to reflect those changes.

“[The forest plan] guides what we do, where we do it, and how we do it,” said Virginia Kelly, who is the forest plan revision team leader. Kelly presented information about the process at the Big Sky Chapel on March 3.

The early stages involve an assessment of existing conditions and regular meetings to garner public input.

“The forest plan does not authorize any site-specific uses or activities,” Kelly said, adding that uses do have to be “consistent with the plan.”

In later stages, Environmental Impact Statements and National Environmental Policy Act assessments will play a larger role. The revision process is expected to take approximately four years to complete.

According to Lisa Stoeffler, a district ranger based out of Bozeman, the Custer Gallatin National Forest has approximately 3.1 million visitors annually, enough to make it the ninth-most visited national forest in the country.

Stoeffler said the Custer Gallatin National Forest has 3.1 million visitors annually, a 60 percent increase from five or six years ago. “Those kinds of trends are pretty mind-boggling to us.”

The Custer Gallatin National Forest will hold additional meetings and continue to garner public input as the revision progresses. Find out how you can participate at

Local snowboarders win trip to British Columbia


Four Big Sky Resort snowboarders won a trip to compete against 10 sponsored skier and rider teams at the Fernie 4, a four-minute film competition held at Fernie Alpine Resort in British Columbia.

The collaboration between two local film companies – Sky Lab Media House and Love Street Media – won Trevor Harapat, Chris Kamman, Chance Lenay and Erik Morrison a five-day trip to Fernie April 5-9, free lodging and lift tickets, and a chance at the $4,000 prize.

The contest, hosted by Teton Gravity Research and Bozeman’s Bomb Snow magazine, offered a wild-card spot to one team of four – and a combination of only four – athletes and videographers. Teams had between Jan. 12 and Feb. 21 to put together their best cut and submit it on TGR’s website. The Big Sky crew cut “Journey 4 Fernie” and was the only all-snowboard team to enter.

“We were pretty stoked to hear TGR, who was the one judging all the entries, gave us a unanimous vote for the wild card,” said Morrison, owner of Love Street Media.

The “Journey 4 Fernie” team will have four days to ride and film at the steep Canadian ski resort, cut another four-minute edit, and submit it along with the rest of the shorts to be judged by the competitors.

Visit Sky Lab Media’s Facebook page to view the Big Sky team’s winning entry.

Pie Auction aims to raise $100K for school district


The 36th annual Pie Auction fundraiser will be held March 25 at Buck’s T-4 from 6-10 p.m., with a “Black and White Ball” theme this year.

The Big Sky Parent Teacher Organization hosts the March event to raise money for enrichment, supplements and special programs for students and staff of the Big Sky School District. The nonprofit Big Sky PTO provides funding for the fourth grade Expedition Yellowstone, the eighth grade Washington D.C. trip, and other field trips throughout the year. It also provides financial support for the school library; athletic and music programs; and prom and graduation, among others.

The auction raised nearly $85,000 last year, according to Shana Seelye, Big Sky PTO president and chair of the Pie Auction. This year they hope to raise $100,000, she said. Last year’s event saw a 36 percent increase in gross income over 2014’s Pie Auction.

More than 40 pies and other baked goods will be up for auction, in addition to other live and silent auction items and a raffle. Seelye encourages all attendees to dress in black and white.

Easter in the mountains


Big Sky Resort will host the annual Easter sunrise service on Sunday, March 27. The service begins at the top of Swift Current chairlift at 7 a.m. and lasts approximately 30 minutes.

The chairlift will begin operating at 6:30 a.m. with complimentary loading, and the resort strongly encourages alpine ski or snowboard equipment for a descent down Mr. K after the service. However, foot traffic will not be turned away and attendees without gear will be offered a slow download ride on Swift Current.

For those who would rather worship indoors, All Saints in Big Sky begins its festival service and Holy Communion at 9:30 a.m. Easter morning, followed by coffee and fellowship time in the Big Sky Chapel’s lower level at 10:40 a.m. All Saints in Big Sky is a shared ministry of the Episcopal and Lutheran churches and the chapel is located in the Meadow Village.

Nordic Race Series

Competitors line up for the Nordic Race Series hosted by Big Sky Discovery Academy on March 15. Thirty-five skiers turned out for the event, which took place near the dog loop in Town Center and included a 5k, 3k and 1k. PHOTO BY SUZY SAMARDICH

Competitors line up for the Nordic Race Series hosted by Big Sky Discovery Academy on March 15. Thirty-five skiers turned out for the event, which took place near the dog loop in Town Center and included a 5k, 3k and 1k. PHOTO BY SUZY SAMARDICH

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