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Preserving the beauty of Big Sky’s wildflowers

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Grow Wild, formerly Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance, is fighting for native plant species. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Grow Wild leading conservation efforts against invasive species, hosting Big Sky Wildflower Festival July 10-14


Rooted in the stunning landscapes of Big Sky, native wildflowers paint a vibrant tapestry of colors throughout hikes like Beehive Basin, or in neighborhood backyards. 

However, invasive species challenge the delicate balance of this natural beauty. Through dedicated conservation efforts, the community is working to protect and preserve the native species that make Big Sky truly exceptional.

Led by local conservation organizations such as Grow Wild—formerly Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance—these efforts aim to raise awareness and promote the protection of native flora. Jennifer Mohler, executive director of Grow Wild, is an advocate for preserving the wildflowers of Big Sky. In a conversation with EBS, she emphasized the profound impact of invasive plants on the ecosystem.

“Invasive plants are ecological tumors,” she said. “They disrupt ecosystem processes and push out wildlife from their habitat.”

Grow Wild’s Sean Simpson (left) and Jennifer Mohler plant native flowers at Crail Gardens in Big Sky. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

The Big Sky Wildflower Festival, scheduled from July 10-14, is a vibrant celebration of the essential role that native plants play in the ecosystem. Through a range of events and activities, festival attendees can experience the beauty of Big Sky’s flora. The festival offers an opportunity to learn about the significance of native plants and their impact on the local environment.

Wildflowers of early July in the meadow. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

To address the threat of invasive species, Grow Wild’s focus has been on habitat restoration projects and assisting landowners. Mohler highlighted the significance of native plants, saying that they are the foundation of the ecosystem and can help with water conservation. Planting non-native species, on the other hand, has far-reaching consequences. 

“When we plant non-native species, it impacts not just the big moose down the road, but also the insects, birds, and everything that eats them,” Mohler added.

Mohler emphasized the importance of plants in the landscape. They play a crucial role in the food chain, water conservation, and soil preservation, she said. 

“Nature is dynamic. Things change, and we’re impacted by precipitation, climate, and human activity,” Mohler said. 

Grow Wild urges the community to get educated, use available resources, and take action to address invasive species. Being good neighbors to wildlife and the forest is crucial in preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

“Converting your traditional landscape to a more drought-tolerant native landscaping can be done one step at a time. Start with a little bit and keep going,” Mohler said.

By nurturing native species and defending their habitats from invasive species, the community will ensure that future generations are captivated by the breathtaking wildflower displays that make Big Sky truly exceptional.

Grow Wild emphasizes the importance of growth. Among nature, they work to grow native species in all their beauty; but also, growth in educating tourists and locals alike in the importance of understanding native species and noxious weeds.

Grow Wild nourishes an array of native species at their Crail Gardens, at the historic Crail Ranch site on Spotted Elk Road in Big Sky. PHOTO BY FINLEY TIMON

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