Recommended governing options for Big Sky
On May 15, Dan Clark, director of the Montana State University Local Government Center, presented his recommendations for Big Sky’s self-governing options, outside the path of incorporation.
Clark’s conclusion was to expand the function and authority of the Big Sky Resort Area District tax board to take more of a leadership role in the community, and would be the least complicated route to take. This echoed his sentiment in a preliminary presentation hosted by the chamber of commerce on April 4.
The purpose of this governing body, as expressed by the chamber, would be to facilitate communication and coordination across the many boards, committees, nonprofits and organizations now tackling interrelated issues independently, and to create a cohesive and effective voice for Big Sky that would more likely be heard by lawmakers.
The second and third options were the formation of a community council or a special, multi-jurisdictional district. But ultimately, Clark said, he favored the resort tax board solution because its members are voter-elected; they already field requests from all sectors of the community and hold the community purse strings; and, unlike the second and third options, it doesn’t require approval by higher levels of government.
Candace Carr Strauss, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s board would reconvene to fully discuss Clark’s recommendations. Strauss has also invited Clark to present his conclusions directly to the resort tax board at a summer board meeting, as they pertain to a potential shift in resort tax board’s role in the community.
Big Sky Community Organization raises funds for Beehive Basin improvement
BIG SKY COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION
The Big Sky Community Organization was recently awarded $45,000 from a Recreational Trails Program grant administered through the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The funds will be used for Beehive Basin Trailhead improvements.
Following last year’s purchase of the 7.5 acres on which the Upper Beehive Basin Trailhead is located, BSCO is planning the installation of additional parking and needed trailhead amenities like a bear-proof trash can, a toilet facility and an updated trailhead kiosk. These improvements will enhance the existing trailhead facilities and improve safety by reducing the number of vehicles parking on the roadway, allowing better access for emergency services and the public.
BSCO also raised over $5,400 from 48 donors during this year’s Give Big Gallatin Valley fundraising event that will also support the Beehive Basin project. These donations totaled nearly twice those raised during last year’s Give Big event.
Prior to these two funding efforts, BSCO received $219,275 from private donors for the project.
The final funding piece for this project will be requested through the Big Sky Resort Area District tax grant. There will be a BSRAD appropriations Q&A on June 4 at 1 p.m. at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, during which time the public may offer comments on the request.
Visit bscomt.org for more information.
Interior moves to lift restrictions on hunting bears, wolves
By Michael Biesecker ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration is moving to reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.
The National Park Service issued a notice May 21 of its intent to amend regulations for sport hunting and trapping in national preserves to bring the federal rules in line with Alaska state law.
Under the proposed changes, hunters would also be allowed to hunt black bears with dogs, kill wolves and pups in their dens, and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.
These and other hunting methods—condemned as cruel by wildlife protection advocates—were outlawed on federal lands in 2015. Members of the public have 60 days to provide comment on the proposed new rules.
Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman.
The Obama-era restrictions on hunting on federal lands in Alaska were challenged by Safari Club International, a group that promotes big-game hunting. The Associated Press reported in March that Zinke had appointed a board loaded with trophy hunters to advise him on conserving threatened and endangered wildlife, including members of the Safari Club.
The Humane Society of the United States said it would oppose the new rules.
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Signatures sought for initiative to protect Montana’s waters
According to Yes for Responsible Mining, a coalition of conservation organizations in Montana, the state has 3,500 abandoned mines, more than 200 of which are known to be discharging contaminants and polluting clean water.
In response to this statistic, the coalition is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative focused on preventing future hard-rock mines from permanently polluting Montana’s rivers and streams. Volunteers need to collect 25,500 signatures before June 22 for the initiative to appear on the November ballot.
Initiative No. 186 would require new hard-rock mines in Montana to have a reclamation plan that provides clear and convincing evidence that the mine will not require the perpetual treatment of water polluted by acid mine drainage or other contaminants such as arsenic, lead or mercury. It will not prevent future hard-rock mines in the state.
In a statement sent by Big Sky’s Gallatin River Task Force, who is partnering with Yes for Responsible Mining, it was reported that there have been five major mining company bankruptcies in Montana. After each of the mines closed, the reclamation bonds couldn’t cover the full cost of the clean-up and/or long-term water treatment, leaving Montana taxpayers to cover the reclamation costs.
GRTF will host a training for volunteers interested in gathering signatures on the petition for Initiative No. 186 on Thursday, May 31, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Big Sky Water and Sewer District conference room.