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Ring Family and GVLT conserve 200 acres in Big Sky

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PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN VALLEY LAND TRUST

GALLATIN VALLEY LAND TRUST

BIG SKY – Gallatin Valley Land Trust has completed its 120th conservation easement on a 200-acre parcel owned by Peggy and Harry Ring of Big Sky. The parcel is located about 3 miles south of Big Sky. It is visible to the public traveling along U.S. Highway 191 and Beaver Creek Road. The eastern portions of the land can be seen from several established community centers of Big Sky, including the public schools. Wilson Peak and Beehive Basin can be seen from the property, and viewsheds include both the Madison and Gallatin mountain ranges.

The Rings relocated from Bozeman to Big Sky in the early 1970s so that Harry could open and run Lone Mountain Sports. Peggy owned design and home accessory stores in both the Mountain and Meadow villages. Peggy, an avid skier, was one of the first people ever to ski the Big Couloir in Big Sky with her poodle trailing behind. She regularly took her employees out for early morning ski adventures along Big Sky’s old logging roads.

“I would take the logging roads to the treeline and ski down,” Peggy said. “We could get 80-90 telemark turns down to Beaver Creek Road.”

While skiing, Peggy came upon the 200-acre property that was owned and logged by Big Sky Lumber Company. She was so struck by the scenic beauty of the property that she skied home to write a letter to her husband—who was on a commercial fishing trip in Alaska—to tell him about the “neat property” she had found.

The two purchased the parcel and put a stop to commercial logging on the property. The Ring parcel neighbors another GVLT conserved property owned by the Pessl family, protecting an important wildlife corridor from development. The land serves as both year-round and seasonal habitat for native plants, fish and wildlife, including elk, grizzly bear, gray wolf, mule deer, moose, mountain lion, sandhill crane and grouse. Sagebrush grasslands provide valuable forage for elk and mule deer, while the eastern portions and north facing slopes contain conifer dominated forest, providing security cover for the numerous mammals that inhabit the area.

A variety of springs originate on the property and create a large unnamed tributary that flows into Beaver Creek below. Beaver Creek itself flows through the northwest portion of the property and serves as an important cold-water input of the Gallatin River which flows less than 2 miles below the land.

Now, 30 years later, the native grasslands of the parcel have improved dramatically, and wildfire-fuel reduction projects have kept the timber tidy. The Rings graze a few horses on the land and want the property to remain in a natural state forever.

“We’re just happy GVLT is here,” Harry said. “Keep up the good work.”

These 200 acres mark a total of 51,148 acres conserved through GVLT conservation easements. The viewsheds, water resources and unspoiled wildlife habitat of this gorgeous Big Sky property are now protected for the community and visitors, forever. Not only did the Rings donate the entire value of the conservation easement, but they also made a generous contribution to the GVLT Stewardship Fund. GVLT is very excited to have helped bring the Rings’ conservation vision to reality.

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