One of Big Sky’s most popular trails, Lower Beehive Basin Trail sees an influx of skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer months. Pictured is avid hiker Bernie Bounds. Photo by Jana Bounds

Creating community and protecting the land

Big Sky Community Organization’s bold moves for the future

Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO) executive director Ciara Wolfe explained at both the Gallatin-Madison County Joint Commission meeting in Dec. 2018 and the recent Community Building forum that BSCO recently completed a 10-year master plan for parks and open spaces as well as trails in order to expand and connect. 

This effort also includes the acquisition of 7.5 acres located at Lower Beehive Basin Trailhead thanks to funding from an individual donor, she said. The land will allow for the creation of a nature preserve, double the trailhead capacity and create services – such as a pit toilet and bike rack. Construction is set to begin this summer, according to Wolfe. 

Ousel Falls is also set to see improvements to amenities. 

“From 2017 to 2018 we are seeing a 20 percent increase of trail use,” Wolfe said at the joint commission meeting. ““Trails are getting hammered.” 

BSCO finance and operations director Leisha Folley said in a recent phone conversation that no renderings are available at this time, since they are completing the design phase of the nature preserve.  

 The 3.2 acres located in the middle of Town Center where Music in the Meadow takes places was never intended to be a park. The Simkins family, owners of the development company Simkins Hallin, allowed for the property to be used as a park although it was intended to be developed into condominiums. BSCO purchased the land from Simkins Hallin thanks to efforts by the organization and large donor contributions, Wolfe explained. The land has been saved in perpetuity, or forever, as a park. 

The land acquisition and new design will expand the grass area by 43 percent. Part of that property will house the eventual community center indoor recreational facility. 

The facility will cost $17.5 million and according to the BSCO website, $14,523,414 has been to-date. 

Wolfe described it as the most ambitious community fundraising effort in Big Sky thus far. 

The community center is to include an indoor oversized gymnasium, 2,500 square foot fitness facility, space to house a community counselor to address behavioral health and is to be the first public facility in Big Sky to not have a liquor license, Wolfe said. 

“This facility does not have a pool; however, we are planning on a pool in the future,” Wolfe told attendees at the commission meeting. BSCO made a land trade with Big Sky County Water & Sewer District: land owned by BSCO that will allow for better expansion of the sewer treatment plant for water to build the community center and allow for the construction of a future aquatics facility. 

The goal is to open doors in 2021.

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