Friday, Jul. 12th, 2019

Faces of the Continental Divide: Sharing Stories, Connecting Communities

This summer, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) will partner with recreation, conservation, and community organizations and the diverse communities along the Continental Divide to invite people to connect with their public lands through a series of events and storytelling: Faces of the Continental Divide: Sharing Stories, Connecting Communities

Beginning on July 13, at the start of Latino Conservation Week, and ending on National Public Lands Day on September 28, Faces of the Continental Divide will highlight the diverse communities along the Continental Divide engaged in outdoor recreation and conservation and celebrate their relationships with public lands.“Too often we only see one image of who participates in outdoor recreation,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “That image simply doesn’t reflect the diverse communities who value the landscapes of the Rocky Mountain West. It’s time to share a more complete picture of who cares for and loves our natural places.”  

Throughout the summer, the CDTC will engage with local groups along the length of the Continental Divide from New Mexico to Montana to underscore the importance of providing access to the outdoors for all people. Joining forces with organizations already working to change the face of public lands, such as Denver Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), Big City Mountaineers, Hispanic Access Foundation, and Latino Outdoors, CDTC aims to inspire new people to explore the Continental Divide, as well as to amplify the often untold stories of communities who value and steward its lands. From day hikes and overnight backpacking trips to an outdoor poetry workshop, Faces of the Continental Divide events are as varied as the landscapes they span.  

Many Faces of the Continental Divide events are open to the public and free of charge. CDTC is offering resources to help plan and publicize events for groups interested in organizing an event, and financial assistance to support transportation and meals is made possible with support from the Hydro Flask Parks for All Charitable Giving Program and REI Co-op. Gear loans are also available thanks to in-kind donations from Osprey. 

As part of these efforts, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition will also spend the summer collecting and sharing stories of participants’ connections to the landscapes of the Rocky Mountain West. The stories will be catalogued and showcased on the CDTC’s website and communications and will provide a more comprehensive perception of how people in the Rocky Mountain West connect to landscapes, the Trail, and conservation as a whole. 

In Las Cruces, N.M., the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Latino Outdoors, and Hispanic Access Foundation will team up to raft the Rio Bravo as part of this effort. 

“The history of the Rio Bravo in southern New Mexico is deeply tied to our cultural and traditional uses of the river, from Indigenous to Mexican American communities today. Floating the Rio Bravo allows us to explore that culture, history, and tradition, and to encourage new stewards of our water and natural resources here in the Chihuahuan Desert,” said Gabe Vasquez, founder of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project.

By encouraging communities to connect with their own story of conservation, Faces of the Continental Divide will show that although some communities are absent from the current narrative, they are conservationists nonetheless.  

“Outdoor recreation and conservation have typically been white-dominated spaces in spite of the changing face of America. But the reality is that it will take urban and underserved communities and people of color to lead this fight into the future if we want to protect the land, water, and natural resources that we all collectively use and cherish,” Vasquez said.

Faces of the Continental Divide was made possible by a grant award from Hydro Flask’s Parks for All program and donations from REI Co-Op. Events will take place from July 13 to September 28, 2019. View a map of events, sign up to host your own event, or tell your story at 

About the Continental Divide Trail
The CDT is one of the world’s premiere long-distance trails, stretching 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. Designated by Congress in 1978, the CDT is the highest, most challenging and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails. It provides recreational opportunities ranging from hiking to horseback riding to hunting for thousands of visitors each year. While 95% of the CDT is located on public land, approximately 150 miles are still in need of protection. 

About the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
The CDTC was founded in 2012 by volunteers and recreationists hoping to provide a unified voice for the Trail. Working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land management agencies, the CDTC is a non-profit partner supporting stewardship of the CDT. The mission of the CDTC is to complete, promote and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, a world-class national resource. For more information, please visit

Add a Comment »

Black bear euthanized due to multiple conflicts in Bozeman

A black bear was humanely euthanized this week after multiple conflicts with humans and livestock in Bozeman.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks was first notified of the two-year-old male bear on June 28 when it was seen at a Bozeman residence in the middle of the day. Additional reports followed on July 2 when the bear was seen in other residential areas along Bridger Drive and Hillside Lane.
On July 5, a homeowner found the bear in a pen with goats and chickens, chasing the animals. Montana law allows property owners to kill predators found in the act of pursuing livestock. The homeowner shot at the bear, and the bear left.
During the day on July 9, the bear visited a residence in the Story Hills area, where it was on a deck and at the back door of the house. Residents there attempted to chase it off and deter it with rubber slugs, but the bear did not leave.
FWP biologists set traps and made repeated attempts to capture the bear as its presence was reported. Photos, videos and descriptions from witnesses indicate the same bear was involved in each incident.
Additional reports came on July 11 as the bear was seen on Haggerty Lane and, later, following a woman who was walking two dogs in Lindley Park. The bear was eventually darted and captured that day along Bozeman Creek, with help from the Bozeman Police Department and Animal Control Officers.
FWP’s bear management policies guide the agency’s actions in dealing with captured bears. In this case, the bear was clearly habituated to receiving food rewards in urban areas and being undeterred by humans, posing risks to property and public safety. Based on these factors, FWP decided to euthanize this bear humanely.

“This is a sad news story with an all-too-common sad ending,” said Mark Deleray, FWP’s Regional Supervisor in Bozeman. “At Fish, Wildlife and Parks, we manage for wildlife—the key word being wild. Unfortunately, this bear was habituated, received food rewards, attacked livestock and showed no fear of humans. In these cases, we have no choice but to remove the bear.”

Bear captures in urban areas are not uncommon in southwest Montana. So far this year, FWP has captured five bears in Gallatin County. Most of those bears were relocated. While the circumstances of any bear capture can vary, food rewards from humans are a common factor in most bear captures. The bear captured this week, for example, frequented homes with bird feeders.

“Our goal is to keep wildlife in the wild,” Deleray said. “In today’s world it is getting harder to do so as our urban interface with wildlife expands. It is very difficult to control wild animal behavior, but we have a better chance of modifying human behavior to reduce conflicts with wildlife.”
State statute prohibits people from intentionally feeding wildlife, and doing so is a citable offense. Bears habituated to unsecured food sources from humans can pose repeated threats to human safety and property throughout communities.
Residents can help eliminate the need to relocate or destroy bears by securing feed, garbage and other attractants. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has compiled resources for reducing conflicts with bears, both in the wild and in urban areas. To learn more, please visit

Add a Comment »

Thursday, Jul. 11th, 2019

Why Montana May Be A Budding Travel Hotspot

Many people traveling to the U.S. dismiss Montana as a potential tourism destination. However, trends in tourism come and go, and this state has some unique opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere, so it certainly should not be forgotten. And given some of the attractions listed below - some established, some new, and some just waiting to be noticed by the masses - we wouldn't bet against Montana becoming something of a tourism hotspot in the next decade or so. 

Montana Is Rich In Culture And History

Montana is home to several sites that capture American history in ways that other attractions don't exactly do. For instance, one of the top historical monuments to visit in the state is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, which commemorates Native American tribes defeating U.S. troops. Other fascinating historical stops are in the famous "ghost towns," or preserved towns from the Old West that are no longer operational or inhabited, but provide fascinating snapshots of the past. Now, these aren't new attractions - but as some other aspects of the state draw in new tourists, these attractions are just waiting to keep them occupied and interested.

Montana Is Home To Glacier National Park

National parks have always been Montana’s tourism highlights, but that doesn’t mean they will ever become less fascinating. In fact there's an argument to be made that as climate change becomes a bigger issue and environmental preservation efforts intensify, such parks will be valued even more as destinations. Glacier National Park, known as the "Crown of the Continent," sits in the northwest corner of the state. And no matter what level of adventure any tourist may be seeking, the park will have something to offer. For those who want to get up close to some massive ice formations, day hikes on the Many Glacier trail will be amazing; those who would prefer to drive through the park than get sweaty on a hike can enjoy the picturesque Going-to-the-Sun Road, either in their own cars or via the park's shuttle service. There are plenty of fun options, all revolving around natural beauty that's going to be easier and easier to appreciate. 

Sports Betting Is Now Legal In Montana

Along with a few other states in the U.S., Montana has recently decided to make sports betting legal. It was actually the first state to legalize the activity in the current year, possibly setting a precedent for followers. This will inevitably make watching sports more interesting in Montana, whether it's live on the field or in a local sports bar, and until betting is widespread it could be a tourist draw in and of itself. Some countries like the UK have long-established internet betting traditions and provide free online options for new players, which is how a lot of Americans will envision sports betting working. However, as a new member of the sports-betting community, Montana will be keeping its betting to the physical realm (for now). If anything though, this may only mean the emergence of new, fun venues showcasing sports, serving food, and taking bets. 

Montana Is Filled With Natural Spas

One of the best things about going on vacation is taking time to relax and refresh. Montana is a great place for this, with its wide variety of hot springs that are said to have healing properties thanks to their naturally-occurring mineral content. Although they may not date back quite as far, these spas are similar attractions to those in popular European destinations like Budapest or Seville. They exist in a variety of venues; some have been renovated into contemporary tiled pools with luxury spa facilities built around them, while others are still untouched pools in the earth. Both options are just waiting to be enjoyed by a potential influx of tourists looking for things like untouched natural splendor or gambling activity. 

Some of these attractions and activities will be familiar to Montana residents, and some have been around for quite some time. But between established draws and those that may become more popular in time, these are a few of the things that could serve a more active tourism industry in the near future.

Add a Comment »

MSU nursing professor's research cited in Time magazine story about opioid crisis

A recent article about solutions to the national opioid crisis that appeared in Time magazine featured the work of Montana State University nursing professor and health care economist Peter Buerhaus.

The piece, “One Possible Solution to the Opioid Crisis in the U.S. Has Been Inexplicably Ignored,” was published online June 24 as part of the Time Ideas series. It was written by Tommy Thompson, who served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2005 and as the 42nd governor of Wisconsin, and David Hebert, CEO of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

The authors noted that a new report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisors on how to “beat back America’s opioid crisis” highlighted as potential solutions measures like curbing illicit drug trafficking, reducing over-prescribing in doctors’ offices and cracking down on drug distributors fueling the epidemic for profit. However, they wrote that one measure was missing from the report: nurse practitioners.

Primary care professionals serve on the front lines of the opioid crisis, Thompson and Hebert wrote, but there is a severe shortage of such professionals across the country, particularly in rural areas. They noted that currently, nearly 80% of Americans addicted to opioids aren’t receiving treatment.

“Without access to primary care professionals, addicted patients struggle to receive the care they need,” they wrote.

To address the shortage of primary care professionals, Thompson and Hebert suggest turning to nurse practitioners. And they pointed to Buerhaus’ research showing that nurse practitioners could make a significant difference.

“Between 2016 and 2030, the number of (nurse practitioners) in the workforce is projected to grow by 6.8% annually, according to a study from Peter Buerhaus, a healthcare economist and professor of nursing at Montana State University,” they wrote. “The report also found that these (nurse practitioners) will be far more likely to practice in rural and underserved regions.”

The authors add that, although some states limit where and how nurse practitioners can practice, studies have shown that nurse practitioners provide care that’s just as good as—and sometimes better than—physicians.

“Empowering nurse practitioners to treat addiction—and removing unnecessary restrictions at the state level—can go a long way in liberating American patients,” Thompson and Hebert concluded.

Buerhaus is well-known for his studies and publications on the nursing and physician workforces in the United States. Some of his research indicates that nurse practitioners are more likely than medical doctors to practice in rural areas and that people living in rural areas tend to have the least access to a primary care clinician (primary care doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants).

Buerhaus is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and, in 2010, was appointed chairman of the National Health Care Workforce Commission. The commission was created under the Affordable Care Act to advise Congress and the administration on health workforce policy.

In addition to his work as a professor, Buerhaus also serves as director of the MSU Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies.

The full story is available at

Add a Comment »

Tuesday, Jul. 9th, 2019

Organizations in Bozeman to host 50th Anniversary of Apollo Moon Landing Parties

The Montana Science Center (MSC) is excited to host a Family Science Day for the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing on July 20th. This event will be one of several community-wide events celebrating this moment in history. Events will be held at the American Computer and Robotics Museum, Bozeman Public Library and the Montana Science Center. Astronaut Loren Acton, will attend several of the events throughout the day including joining the American Computer and Robotics Museum’s event, and then attending the Montana Science Center event.

The event at MSC will be hosted all day, from 9:30am to closing at 5:00pm with special events from 11am – 2pm. The Science Center will feature space science and rocket activities throughout the day at the Science Station and MakerPlacer. During this time, the Science Center will feature activities such as stomp rockets, a moon landing photo booth, creating a “moon step” out of moon dough, creating a galaxy out of slime, trying out astronaut food and more. The moon landing footage will also be playing throughout the day and guest speakers will join in on storying telling of their experience in 1969.

MSC’s Executive Director, Abby Turner, states, “The Science Center is excited to be one of several organizations that created opportunities for the community to come together and celebrate a critical moment in our history’s innovation. This collaboration around Bozeman will acknowledge not only an auspicious date in history, but also the interactive programs available to the community for all ages.”

The Apollo 11 Moon Landing Party at MSC is open to the public and free with admission. Families will be able to explore the science center as well. The Montana Science Center is located at 202 S. Willson St. For more information, please contact Abby Turner at (406)522- 9087, or see our website at

Add a Comment »

FWP reminds boaters of hazardous river conditions

Two recreationists were caught in a hazardous spot on the Gallatin River in separate incidents last week where a cottonwood tree recently fell into the river. Both boaters were uninjured, but their watercrafts — a canoe and a paddle boat — became stuck in the log jam.  

This hazard is new and appeared recently between Logan and Missouri Headwaters State Park. But similar hazards exist in all rivers across the state and, like this one, are altered by constantly changing river flows. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reminds boaters to use caution everywhere they recreate. Boating, while enjoyable, is inherently dangerous. Boaters and other people who recreate on Montana’s waterbodies do so at their own risk. 

Historically, boating accidents are not uncommon in Montana. Between 1998 and 2018, 134 people died in boating accidents in the state. Of those fatalities, 71 occurred on a river. And in 73 percent of Montana’s drowning deaths, the victim was not wearing a life jacket. 

Here are several recommended precautions boaters can take to avoid accidents and injury: 
• Always wear a life jacket.
• Make sure the type of life jacket is appropriate for the activity.
• Montana law requires that children under age 12 wear a life jacket when they are in any boat shorter than 26 feet.
• Avoid downed trees and other visible hazards in the water.
• Practice situational awareness and know that dangerous conditions can appear and evolve without warning.
• Abide by Montana’s boating regulations. A copy of these regulations can be found online at or at any FWP regional office.
• Follow vessel safety checklists provided by FWP and the U.S. Coast Guard, including an inventory of necessary rescue equipment. These checklists can be found online at
• Consult the U.S. Geological Survey for daily streamflow conditions. Avoid recreating on rivers during high flows.

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Jul. 3rd, 2019

Taking Care of Your Home Appliances

We’ve all had those crazy, super hectic situations where you’re running around, trying to do a million tasks all at once. Every time you finish one thing, the next item on your list is staring you right in the face.

No matter how many things you cross off, the list keeps coming. But then, the unexpected happens. Just after putting in a load of dishes, your dishwasher starts foaming at the seams. Soon, there’s a puddle of water and suds in and around your kitchen. It’s just another thing that needs to be added to the list.

You may have heard your parents, grandparents or yourself say “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Furniture always seems to get brought up in this conversation and so do any tech items. While a Nokia phone could withstand an atomic bomb, your new iPhone is being replaced every few years. But home appliances shouldn’t fall in that category. You’d rather not be shelling out money every year for a new dishwasher.

We need them to be reliable as we’re using them every day, often multiple times a day. They are supposed to stand the test of time.

Before calling a professional, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your home appliances? Check the list below to get started.

Regular Cleaning
Just like you need a shower every day, your appliances need regular cleaning as well. Amazingly enough, cleaning your everyday appliances is much easier than it may seem.

Take your fridge for example. While you should be cleaning the shelves and vegetable trays on a regular basis already, one of the best ways to ensure long life is by vacuuming the coils. Refrigerators and freezers don’t make stuff cold, they remove heat from inside the fridge. Take a small vacuum brush and do a one-two on the coils to remove all dust and debris. Bam, you’re finished!

Going to that tricky dishwasher, make sure you’re cleaning out the filter. It’s what catches large pieces of food and other debris and too much can block the drain hose. If the drain hose is blocked, expect to see more water outside the dishwasher than inside it.

With your oven, you can use the self-clean feature and simply brush away all the crumbs when you’re finished. On the top side, just clean your stove after you use it. Make sure nothing is blocking the gas burners, if you have them.

Last but not least, your water heater. Make sure you check your pressure relief valve to remove any excess pressure. If not, your water heater may start making bizarre sounds every now and then and you won’t be getting the desired pressure you need.

Take care of these small things first so you can get out and enjoy different fun activities.

Channel Your Inner DIY
If you see a problem, don’t immediately call a repairman. While you may know as much about appliance repair as you know about rocket science, there are still plenty of things you can do first.

Head online to look at YouTube videos and go onto some DIY forums. Chances are, there are plenty of other people who have had the same problem you have at one time or another so check online before reaching for the phone.

Choosing a Repair Service
There will be problems, however, that you just won’t be able to repair on your own and it will be time to call in an expert. Appliance repair companies are usually much cheaper than having to buy new.

If there are issues where you feel your appliance is affecting your safety, like your dryer giving off a burning smell, then it’s time to pick up the phone. Or if it's better half, the washing machine, is violently shaking and jumping out of place.

When it comes to your fridge, if it’s becoming hot to the touch or food is spoiling prematurely, that could be a sign of a bigger issue that will need an expert’s opinion.

When it comes to choosing a service, the best way is to look at online opinions and prices. Those with past experiences can shine a light on how responsive the company is, how willing they are to work with you and what else they can offer. In this business, online reviews and word of mouth are great ways to find your repairman.

Add a Comment »

Friday, Jun. 28th, 2019

Fishes of Montana app brings field guide to mobile devices

If you were to catch a lake trout or a bull trout in Montana waters, would you know which is which?  A new app may be able to help.

“It’s harder than most people think to identify fish correctly,” said Tom McMahon, a professor in the Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management Program within the Department of Ecology in the College of Letters and Science at Montana State University.  “There are a lot of fish that kind of look alike.”

In 1971, long before the university became known as Trout U, MSU published “Fishes of Montana” by C.J.D. Brown, and the field guide has since remained a vital resource for identifying species in the field. It includes 80  varieties of fish in the state, with histories, distribution maps and characteristics, but in nearly half a century, the book has never been updated.

For years, McMahon and ecology department colleagues Alexander Zale and Christopher Guy, leader and assistant leader of the U.S. Geological Survey Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit,bandied the idea of a new edition of the book. However, a different opportunity presented itself when Guy met Whitney Tilt, a Bozeman conservationist whose previous collaborations with Matt Lavin, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology in MSU’s College of Agriculture, led to two field identification smartphone apps, Montana Grasses and Flora of the Yellowstone Region.

Rather than revise and reprint “Fishes of Montana,” the book has been given a 21st century update with the release of its namesake Fishes of Montana app. The app, now available for Android and iOSdevices, includes information on 90 native and introduced species. The app is free to download, funded by a $10,000 grant  from retailer Patagonia that was awarded to the Department of Ecology to promote the restoration of native fish populations as part of the Trout and Cold Water Fisheries Initiative.

The app includes a comprehensive species list for quick reference, which includes the common and scientific names. It tells whether the fish is native or introduced, threatened or a game fish. Fishes of Montana also contains a glossary, a map of major drainages in Montana, diagrams on fish anatomy and links to more resources.

To develop the app, the MSU team enlisted Tilt as project manager and Katie Gibson of the Bozeman company MountainWorks as the developer. They then called on Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, partners in the Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, to provide expertise. 

“This partnership is really neat,” Guy said. “It allows us to bring it all together and develop a product with the best resources available in the state.”

Printed guides have been important for those doing field work in places without an internet connection. The new app is equally portable; Fishes of Montana does not require cellular coverage or a wireless connection for basic identification. The app’s information draws from both books and FWP’s online field guide, FishMT.

“The app is now the most current resource for contemporary taxonomy,” said David Schmetterling, a fisheries research coordinator with FWP who was part of the development team.

It also relies on the knowledge base of the fisheries community, FWP and the university.

“The faculty at Montana State University are the best ichthyologists we have in the state,” Schmetterling said. “For generations, MSU has been looked at for those skills and that knowledge.” 

Making correct identifications is important. FWP’s fishing regulations center around being able to identify the species. For example, Guy said lake trout are considered at risk of becoming endangered due to declining populations in their native waters, but invasive when introduced elsewhere. Bull trout are listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Daily limits, or fishing bans, reflect these designations.

“Lake trout we want gone in many waters,” Guy said. “Bull trout must stay. But they look similar.”

Lake trout have more spots than bull trout and their tail fins have deeper forks, according to Fishes of Montana. Bull trout’s spots are a pale yellow on their back and red or orange going down the side. Lake trout have light gray spots, never red or orange.

McMahon teaches an ichthyology class each spring. His students learn to identify fish species using a dichotomous key, which gives a couplet, or pair, of statements and asks the user to pick one of the two choices leading them to another couplet. Those choices become increasingly specific until a match is found. Students learn the key, but often don’t rely on it in the field.

The broader approach of Fishes of Montana “might actually fit better,” Zale said.

The app invites users to identify fish species through a polyclave key, which uses a process of elimination based on observed characteristics. Choose the location within the state, the shape of the tail or if an adipose fin is present. If you don’t know what an adipose fin is, a graphic with an arrow points to its location (between the main back fin and the tail). The ­app then provides a list of fish meeting the specified characteristics.

“The polyclavel approach is user friendly,” Tilt said. “It encourages the user to explore and not worry about making a mistake.”

McMahon plans on using the app in his next ichthyology class.

Aside from students and scientists, the app is useful for anglers of all ages. According to Schmetterling, one FWP employee took a beta version on a Missouri River fishing trip and his 10- and 13-year-old children were able to identify the six or seven different species.

“The unique thing about this app is it serves many different purposes to different audiences,” he said.

Fishes of Montana users could also lend insight into changes in distribution or the presence of fish species, including aquatic invasive species. For this reason, the app has information on 10 species the State of Montana hopes never to see in Montana waters, such as the snakehead, round goby and bighead carp. If a user is unable to identify a species or wants to share information, the app contains a direct email link to Schmetterling inviting the user to attach a photo.

“What I especially like about the way Fishes of Montana was developed is it promotes communication from people using the app to us,” he said.

Add a Comment »

Thursday, Jun. 27th, 2019

Big Sky Chamber Black Diamond Award winners inspire us to get involved

The first business event at The Wilson Hotel held on Tuesday, June 26th spotlighted this year’s recipients of the 22nd Annual Black Diamond Business Awards, which honored those working hard to build Big Sky into a world-class resort destination and sustainable community. 

In front of a sold-out crowd of 150, the Big Sky Chamber recognized a courageous entrepreneur, a devoted nonprofit leader, a role-model business leader, an outstanding business and a dedicated local with a long track-record of remarkable community involvement. The Chamber board also approved the FY20 budget and elected new board members to govern the organization for the upcoming year.

Emerging Entrepreneur: Kara and Ben Blodgett of The Rocks. “Having the bravery to turn your passion into a business and having the grit to work the long hours to make it a success is no small feat, but Big Sky thrives on a community full of businesses driven by passionate, hard-working entrepreneurs,” said Caitlin Quisenberry, programming and events manager at the Chamber. Quisenberry told the crowd gathered in the Sapphire Ballroom of the Residence Inn by Marriott, “This year’s winner has managed to keep their doors open and thriving through peak and shoulder seasons, greeting our locals and guests with charm and hospitality.” 
Nonprofit Person of the Year: Ciara Wolfe, who has, “Put in countless hours to ensure the longevity of our community’s vitality and livability,” said Quisenberry. Thanks to Wolfe’s leadership of the Big Sky Community Organization, “Our lands and public spaces have been secured for true community use and access including years-long work to prepare to raise $12 plus million to buy land and build a Community Center in the heart of town.”

Business Person of the Year: Tim Kent of First Security Bank has shown the determination and strength of character to push difficult projects across the finish line. “Big Sky has taken landmark strides in beginning to address our access to workforce housing,” said Quisenberry, describing Kent’s involvement with the MeadowView project. 

Business of the Year: The Simkins Family and the Big Sky Town Center. “As a business membership organization, the Big Sky Chamber is honored to recognize the vast impact that businesses have on Big Sky’s growth and development,” said Quisenberry, describing how the Simkins family sold 3.3 acres of land in the heart of the Town Center to the Big Sky Community Organization dedicated to a future Community Center. The Simkins were also congratulated for the thoughtful design and significant investment in the new Town Center Plaza in front of The Wilson Hotel where Big Sky Comes Together.

Chet Huntley Lifetime Achievement Award: Philanthropist Loren Bough has dedicated himself to creating and supporting major building blocks in Big Sky. This includes his significant involvement in the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, the creation of Lone Peak High School and the development of Big Sky Medical Center. Bough has served on numerous boards including the Big Sky Resort Tax Board, WMPAC, Friends of Big Sky Education, Yellowstone Club Community, and currently is in his third term as Chair of the Big Sky School District Board.

Kevin Germain, Big Sky Chamber Board Member, presented Bough with the award, and said, “I can think of no person more deserving of this award. Loren, and his wife Jill, are committed and dedicated community members. The Boughs have focused on making Big Sky a world-class community by focusing on education, the environment and the arts. He cares deeply about this community. His positive efforts to help build a community have been thoughtful, thorough and fair. Best of all, this year Loren coached the 7th & 8th girls basketball team to a 27-0 record!”

The keynote speaker for the Black Diamond Awards Dinner was Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly, who shared his top five strategic priorities for YNP. These include investing in infrastructure, focusing on the people who work at the park and how to deal with increased visitation. These mirror much of what Big Sky is focusing on as well. For the Chamber specifically, telecommunications is its next key priority for 2019, having received $80,000 in resort tax funding to commission a study of current capacity and gaps in both cell and internet service (click to see video).
“Highlighting the best of us and our business community was the perfect way to celebrate the landmark opening of The Wilson Hotel,” said Candace Carr Strauss, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber. “Those honored should inspire us all to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the continued build out of our community. Big Sky is a unique and special place, and it’s powered by passionate people who chose to live here and are willing to show up and get things done to make it better.”

Newly elected board members and those continuing their terms were also recognized for their service to the Big Sky Chamber and the community.  

They include:
·       Scott Johnson, Chair – At-large
·       David O’Connor, Past Chair – Buck’s T-4
·       Katie Grice – Vice Chair – Big Sky Resort 
·       Ken Lancey, Treasurer – Grizzly Outfitters
·       Shannon Sears, Secretary – Montana Title & Escrow 
·       Frank Acito, Yellowstone Club
·       Sarah Gaither, Big Sky Community Food Bank
·       Kevin Germain, Lone Mountain Land Company
·       Greg Lisk, Gallatin Riverhouse Grill
·       Joel Nickel, Suffolk Construction
·       Bill Simkins, Big Sky Town Center

Inspired to get involved? Start by filling out a “Big Sky Opportunities Questionnaire.”It’s part of the “Our Big Sky” strategic visioning process now underway, thanks to support and leadership from the Big Sky Resort Area District.  

About the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce
The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership organization representing 450+ businesses from throughout Gallatin and Madison Counties, Montana and the U.S. Serving as the VOICE of Big Sky business, the Big Sky Chamber CHAMPIONS a healthy economy and works collaboratively with community stakeholders (CONVENES) as a CATALYST to improve the overall quality of life in the region. Elevate Big Sky 2023, the Big Sky Chamber’s Strategic Plan, highlights its focus on advocating for and working to create a positive business climate in the greater Gallatin Valley, encouraging community infrastructure investment and facilitating local governance for the Big Sky community. For more information visit

Add a Comment »

Saturday, Jun. 22nd, 2019

Music Director Search Receives over 200 Applicants

The Bozeman Symphony continues their search for the position of Music Director having received 228 applications for the position – doubling expectations for the organization. The position serves as the organization’s principal conductor, artistic director, and performing arts advocate within Bozeman and surrounding areas.

Screening of applications began immediately upon publicly announcing the position earlier this year. Over the past several weeks, search committee members have worked diligently aiming to identify and invite finalists to participate as part of the Symphony’s new season which begins September 28th at 29th. The search committee’s membership includes representatives of the Symphony Board of Directors, community members, administrative staff and performing musicians. The committee aims to publicly announce finalists by mid-August. A new Music Director will be appointed in 2020 at the conclusion of the Symphony’s concert season.

The Symphony has just announced the 2019-2020 concert season which includes world-class guest artists such as pianist Marika Bournaki, violinist Angella Ahn, and Clarinetist Jon Manasse among many local favorites such as Elizabeth Croy, Melina Pyron, Concertmaster Carrie Krause, Pico Alt, and Tristan Hernandez – the senior division runner up from the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras’ 2019 Young Artist Competition. Music Director finalists will participate in the season’s programming as they present a “conductor’s choice” highlighted at each concert series performance held at Willson Auditorium.

The Music Director selection process will provide the opportunity for the community to participate in a landmark event for the Bozeman Symphony. Information about the search will be updated regularly on the Symphony’s website, For more information, contact the Bozeman Symphony at 406-585-9774 or

Add a Comment »