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News in Brief: Feb. 16, 2018

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Special Olympics in Big Sky Feb. 26


The Special Olympics Winter Area Games return to Big Sky Resort on Monday, Feb. 26, bringing athletes from around the state to compete at the Moonlight Basin side of the ski hill.

Events include Alpine skiing and snowboarding giant slaloms, Nordic skiing, as well as the 50-meter and 100-meter snowshoe races.

This year’s games could see more than 100 athletes participating. Teams from the greater Bozeman area will be traveling to participate, and with the cancellation this year of the State Winter Games in Whitefish, teams from Anaconda and Butte will also attend. Also, one Special Olympics Colorado athlete will be vacationing in Big Sky and will participate as well.

Jami Williamson, central outreach director for Special Olympics Montana, said the Big Sky Games is an important way to show appreciation of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“We do not have many athletes living in the Big Sky community, so an event like this provides opportunity for the local schools, businesses and community members the chance to interact with and support our athletes,” Williamson said. “In return, it gives our athletes and volunteers an amazing opportunity to visit a venue that they likely wouldn’t on a regular basis.”

The organizers of the Big Sky Area Winter Games encourage community members to “be a part of something extraordinary for an exceptional group of people.”

For more information about Montana Special Olympics, visit

Montana peak named after Alex Diekmann


On Jan. 31, President Trump signed a bill naming a Montana mountain peak for the late Alex Diekmann, a Trust for Public Land senior project manager who died of cancer two years ago.

The mountain is in the Madison Range overlooking the Madison River Valley, one of the many areas in the Northern Rockies where Diekmann led successful efforts to conserve land and water. He was responsible for the protection of more than 50 distinct areas in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, and more than 100,000 acres of iconic mountains and valleys, rivers and creeks, ranches and farms, and historic sites and open spaces.

Diekmann’s wife, Lisa Diekmann, had earlier expressed her pride in her late husband’s work and her gratitude to all who worked to memorialize his legacy. “This is a great way to start the new year,” she said. “I hope that the efforts of Sens. Tester and Daines, Congressman Gianforte, and Alex’s friends and colleagues who have worked tirelessly to designate this peak in memory of Alex and his commitment to conservation and collaboration will be an inspiration for others.”

Diekmann’s long-time colleague at The Trust for Public Land, Alan Front, who spearheaded the effort to name the peak, remembered Diekmann as a tireless advocate for conserving our land and water for future generations. “The adjectives that describe the best of humankind apply to Alex. He had the courage and tenacity, the dignity and ability to work with the local community to get the conservation job done. He had the gift of sight beyond ordinary vision,” Front said.

Yellowstone recruiting for Youth Conservation Corps program


Yellowstone is currently recruiting for the 2018 Youth Conservation Corps, a residential work-based education program for young men and women between the ages of 15 and 18.

Two, month-long YCC sessions will be offered June 10 to July 11 and July 15 to Aug. 15. Sixty youth will be selected from across the country to participate and applicants must be citizens of the United States and 15 years of age by June 10, but not over 18 years of age by Aug. 15. Yellowstone recruits youth from all social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds for the program.

No previous wilderness experience is required. Applicants should possess a positive attitude and get along with others. They must be willing to work in a physically active outdoor program and will be required to live in the park. Room and board will be provided at a minimal cost. Wages will be set at the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

YCC is designed to develop an appreciation for the nation’s natural resources and heritage through unique educational, recreational and work experiences. Corps members work together with National Park Service staff to complete conservation projects such as rehabilitation of trails, campground restoration and a wide variety of visitor support services.

YCC is funded by park entrance fees and generous donations to Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park.

Completed application materials must be received by March 1. For more information or to apply, visit Questions may be directed to


Forum to identify drought risks in Big Sky


Echoing Montana’s “Best in the West” snowpack, Big Sky sits at 142 percent above average this winter, putting the drought and wildfires of last summer to the back of our minds.

Droughts creep up on us though. We can’t easily see them coming or recognize all their far-reaching impacts. Take last summer’s flash drought. In the western part of the state, a good snowpack didn’t prevent a rapid and intense onset of dry conditions. And, just a few months later, summer wildfires burned over 1 million acres across Montana.

While sheltered from severe impacts of drought last summer, Big Sky remains vulnerable to drought conditions and their impacts. Groundwater resources, drinking water supplies, economic prosperity, recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat are just a few sensitive areas that may be widely disrupted by droughts.

In a 2017 local survey gauging drought awareness, 77.1 percent of respondents expressed concern or high concern for available public water supplies during drought periods.

So, when drought creeps up on us, how can we be ready?

The Gallatin River Task Force’s Upper Gallatin Drought Focus Group on Feb. 21 is a local planning effort working to do just that. The meeting will examine community needs and experiences of drought, which help discern management strategies for our watershed. The meeting will take place at 9 a.m. in the Big Sky Water and Sewer District’s conference room.

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