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News in brief: July 20, 2018



Lone Mountain Land tables Moonlight development plan to address impact concerns


Lone Mountain Land Company voluntarily hit pause on a 2017 plan for new development projects at Moonlight Basin after groups including the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Greater Yellowstone Coalition voiced concerns about environmental impacts.

The 2017 plan, a revised version of an approved decade-old plan, details the addition of more than 1,600 residential units in the Moonlight Basin area north of Big Sky Resort, 270,000 square feet of commercial space, an 80-room five-star hotel, dorm-style employee housing, and two new chairlifts for residential access.

“The Planning Board makes recommendations to the Madison County Commissioners based on its evaluation of the information provided, including the applicant proposal and public comment,” wrote Madison County Planning Director Charity Fechter in an email to EBS. Fechter also expressed in a recent Bozeman Daily Chronicle story that the board’s recommendation to allow time for more discourse, did not indicate an opposition to the overall plan.

Lone Mountain Land Company’s vice president of planning and development, Kevin Germain, did not seem phased by the stall in the project when speaking with EBS.

“Moonlight was founded on some firm conservation principles and those continue today,” Germain said. “Some concerns have been raised and we’re working through them, through an open dialog with all three [conservation] groups and trying to come up with the best ways to mitigate their concerns.”

Germain said they hope to finalize a solution plan in coming weeks and potentially present it to the Madison County Planning Board in August.

BSCO raises over $200K during annual Parks and Trails Gala


The Big Sky Community Organization hosted their annual fundraising event, the Parks and Trails Gala, on July 6 at the Big Sky Community Park. This year, the gala also celebrated the nonprofit’s 20th anniversary.

A sold-out crowd of 250 individuals were in attendance, raising $210,000 for the organization. According to BSCO Executive Director Ciara Wolfe, this year’s gala was the most successful event to date.

During the evening, board chairman Al Malinowski highlighted the work accomplished over the past 20 years, which includes the preservation of 91 acres of parkland, the development of 19 miles of trails and easements, and programming that reaches hundreds of individuals annually.

Guest speaker Mary Erickson, forest supervisor for the Custer Gallatin National Forest, spoke about her gratitude for the Big Sky community and BSCO, particularly with the recent Beehive Basin land acquisition for future trailhead improvements and public access.

Wolfe credits the success of the evening to the years of trust the organization has earned from the community, as well as the year-round work done by the BSCO team.

“BSCO is known for our responsible fiscal management, strong project execution and ability to collaborate across both the private and public sectors within our community,” she said. “Together, we are building not just a resort, but also a community.”

Visit to learn more about the Big Sky Community Organization.

Restrictions lifted on most of region’s fishing access sites


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has lifted walk-in restrictions on all but two of its south-central Montana fishing access sites that were flooded earlier this year.

Most fishing access sites along the Yellowstone River and one on the Bighorn River were restricted to walk-in only because of high water or flood damage this past spring. Flows have receded, and flood damage is repaired on all but two of the sites, so FWP has lifted restrictions and opened the sites to drive-in use.

Indian Fort fishing access site on the Yellowstone River at Reed Point remains closed to all but walk-in traffic after the access road washed out. The fishing access site at Grant Marsh on the Bighorn River north of Hardin remains restricted to walk-in only after the access road and parts of the site washed away as well. The wildlife management area at Grant Marsh remains open and accessible.

Cleanup and repairs are complete at all other Yellowstone River fishing access sites and drive-in access was restored this month. They include Captain Clark east of Pompeys Pillar, Bundy Bridge at Pompeys Pillar, Voyagers Rest and Gritty Stone near Worden, Duck Creek west of Billings, and Buffalo Mirage at Park City.

Other fishing access sites along south-central Montana’s rivers and streams remained open during spring runoff.

Republicans fail to get enough votes for special session

HELENA (AP) – Republican lawmakers failed to get enough support to call a special session to consider referenda to counter two proposed ballot initiatives.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton said July 16 that 45 lawmakers supported the special session that would have started the same day, while 71 rejected it. Seventy-six lawmakers would have had to support the call. Thirty-four did not vote.

Sen. Llew Jones of Conrad and others proposed the session to offer referenda opposing two ballot initiatives—one that would prevent the state from permitting mines whose cleanup plans included the perpetual treatment of polluted water and another that would extend Montana’s Medicaid expansion program beyond 2019 and raise the state’s tobacco tax to pay for it.

Jones argued the mining initiative would kill future mining. And he wanted voters to consider requiring able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work.

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