Get Your Home Ready To Sell

Posted on October 23, 2018 by calliep

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The Big Mountain Out Our Backdoor: Lone Mountain Geology

Posted on October 2, 2018 by calliep

The Big Mountain Out Your Backdoor

Even to a hardened alpinist, Lone Peak is a stunning sight. Nestled in the heart of Montana’s rugged Madison Range, Lone Peak, home to Big Sky Resort, is solitary, hulking and gorgeous to behold throughout Montana’s distinct four seasons. But its unique beauty begs a lot of questions. Like, why is Lone Mountain so, well, lonely? And what makes it such a perfect venue for one the the country’s best ski resorts? The answers to these burning questions lie in the faults.


Our backyard, including Lone Peak and the Madison Range, is made up of 1.7 million year old deposits left over by the Yellowstone Caldera’s last explosion. As you drive north from Big Sky along the Gallatin River towards Bozeman, take note of the towering rock fins. Beloved by climbers and hikers alike, much of the exposed rock throughout Gallatin canyon is some of the oldest on the face of the earth.

Big Sky and Fan Mountain


Lone Mountain itself is a volcano that never erupted. While we enjoy skiing, biking, golfing and fishing in Big Sky, our home was a volcanic battle zone some 50 million years ago. The stunning scenery we love is the result of this chaotic geologic period in earth’s history. What was once a burning hot hell-scape is now a powder skiing mecca.

 Lone Peak at Big Sky Resort

Much of Lone Mountain is made up of an igneous rock called Dacite. Dacite is crystalized magma that spread throughout the cone of Lone Mountain all those years ago, giving the peak its solid shape. The hard minerals and rocks in Lone Mountain survived weathering and erosion, unlike the soft sedimentary rock that once surrounded the peak, leaving our beloved ski resort standing tall.


Whether you’re skiing Big Sky as a visitor, or gazing at its flanks from inside a Big Sky Sotheby’s represented home, understanding the geology at work inside Lone Mountain helps enhance our appreciation for our home.


Sunset in Big Sky

 Photos Courtesy of Dave Pecunies Photography








Meet the Artist: James Weikert

Posted on September 27, 2018 by amys

Event Details:

Join us in celebrating James Weikert's art which has been created from with memories of his explorations; snapshots of static landscapes converted into living, moving compositions. Enjoy light libations and appetizers and explore our Bozeman office all at once!

Date & Time:

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 from 4 - 6 PM

Hosted by Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty - Bozeman and Tory Cyr, Broker

Categories: Bozeman Events

MSU Homecoming Tailgate!

Posted on September 27, 2018 by amys

Event Details:

Join us for a taco bar and a Bloody Mary before the Bobcat Homecoming game, we will be here to support you in supporting the Bobcats! Park at Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty (located just south of Sola Cafe).

Date & Time:

October 13th, 2018 from 10:30 AM -1:00 PM

Hosted by Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty - Bozeman and First American Title Company

Tags: Bozeman, MSU
Categories: Bozeman Events

Spanish Peaks Mountain Club - Neighborhood Highlight

Posted on September 14, 2018 by calliep

Spanish Peaks Mountain Club is one of three private ski and golf clubs located in Big Sky, Montana. It’s Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course is regarded as one of the most beautiful mountain courses, and the views prove that to be the case. Weiskopf himself is a resident of Big Sky, living in the neighboring Yellowstone Club. The club has a small network of ski trails and lifts, operated by Big Sky Resort, and are directly connected to the resort’s over 5,800 skiable acres of terrain.

Years ago, there were plans to build a large, luxury hotel adjacent to the private Member Clubhouse. Many years ago, the hotel project was started, but was never completed. Today, Montage International and Cross Harbor Capital Partners, LLC are unveiling the details of their plans to complete this $400 Million ultra-luxury hotel, and holding a groundbreaking ceremony.

For more details about the hotel plans, check out this Bloomberg article published today.

With the continued growth throughout Big Sky and new developments taking shape each week, now is an excellent time to consider Spanish Peaks Mountain Club as your Montana ski and golf getaway. Check out these listings within Spanish Peaks Mountain Club:

Lot 61 Sweet Root Fork – Wildridge Neighborhood           
List Price: $350,000         Status: Active
A very nice treed lot in the Wildridge Neighborhood in Spanish Peaks Mountain Club. This 1.37 acre lot is located close to the first Spanish Peaks Resort access road for easy access in and out. Great views of Lone Peak with a nice elevated, almost, level building site. The Spanish Peaks Mountain Club bike trail is located in the open space to the south of this lot.

Lot 61 Goshawk Trail – Elkridge Neighborhood
List Price: $825,000         Status: Active
Enjoy skiing in and out of this 1.01 acre homesite perched on the southern ridge of the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club. Soak up the views of the surrounding moutain ranges while the kids sled, mountain bike, or adventure on the adjacent hundred acres of open space. Located within a short ski, hike, or drive from the Club's Settlement area. The Club includes a Private Tom Weiskopf Signature Golf Course, Clubhouse, swimming pool, playground, kids center, exercise facility, ski hill, and other amenities. Take advantage of all this homesite and Club has to offer.

Lot 88 Crown Butte – The Ranches
List Price: $438,900         Status: Active

You have to see this beautiful Spanish Peaks 2.03 acre lot bordering open space. This lot offers a convenient location to amenities of Spanish Peaks and the restaurants and happenings of the Town Center of Big Sky. Build your dream home in the comfort of the old growth trees, watch the birds soar above the meadows and enjoy the fresh Mountain air blowing through the wildflowers. This lot is adjacent to over 30 acres of open space which ensures privacy. A golf and ski membership is available with this property. Additional private club amenities exist, membership upon approval.

39 Homestead Cabin Fork
List Price: $1,789,999      Status: UNDER CONTRACT
This amazing golfer’s dream Homestead Cabin has 3 bedrooms, 4 full baths and a spacious living area, right off the 17th fairway of the Tom Weiskopf signature course. Tastefully furnished with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, stainless steel appliances, tiled bathrooms, and attached one car garage. Imagine taking in the breathtaking views on your own private deck with an outdoor fireplace and private hot tub. Ski-in, ski-out to Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and on to Big Sky Resort’s 5,800 acres of skiable terrain. Sold turn-key and ready to go boasting great rental income numbers.

For more information about these or other listings at Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty, call us at 406.995.2211.



Bozeman's Revitalized Music Venue

Posted on September 3, 2018 by calliep

Visit the new Rialto Bozeman!

As far as live music goes, Bozeman has been stuck between a rock and a hard place for a long time. Touring musicians usually make stops in either Billings or Missoula and fly over Bozeman on their way to one or the other. A commonly floated theory about the Big Sky/Bozeman music drought is the two city’s lack of enticing performance space.

Downtown Bozeman

Now, thanks to new ownership, downtown Bozeman’s Rialto Theatre has reopened as a beautiful and vibrant music and meeting space, attracting a wide variety of wonderful new music.

The Rialto features a wide open dance floor, as well as a wrap around balcony. Before the show, head upstairs to the Rialto’s Burn Box for some beer wine and hor d'oeuvres.

Rialto Bar

 Check out the website here for a list of upcoming acts.


Ghostly Getaway in Montana

Posted on July 10, 2018 by calliep

Mining and natural resource exploration are two of the foundational tenants of Montana’s history as a state. Much of the regions development by western immigrants traces its roots to the search for gold and other precious resources. But as mines dried up, and mineral prices fluctuated, a slew of ghost towns were left in the wake of progress all across our state. The quintessential ghost town is almost a uniquely Montanan phenomenon, and among one of the best to visit is the beautiful Elkhorn, Montana, located in the unassuming Elkhorn Mountains of Jefferson County.

Elk Horn was initially developed beginning in 1870, but it took until around 1890 for silver mining to really take off in the Elkhorn region when demand for the mineral sky rocketed. Before it’s ultimate demise, over $14 million of silver was pulled out of mines in and around the small town. At it’s height, Elkhorn had 2,500 residents, a school, church, hotel, stores, fraternity hall and brothels. The proud Elkhorn Fraternity Hall, built in 1893 still stands today as one of the most well-maintained and photographed ghost town buildings in Montana, and was a hub for local dances, church gatherings, prize fights and music events. Shortly after its construction, the price of silver and the associated boom lessened, and Elkhorn began to suffer. In the winter of 1888-1898, a diphtheria epidemic hit Elkhorn, killing a significant number of the towns children, and railroad service was officially halted. Ever since, Elkhorn has stood weathering Montana’s harsh seasons, garnering a reputation as beautiful, and eerie destination.

While it is a registered ghost town, Elkhorn still has around 10 permanent residents and can be accessed by a county-maintained road off of I-15 outside of Boulder, Montana. The town is currently a Montana State Park, and is open year-round to the public. However, summertime is the peak season for visiting Elkhorn’s old mining buildings, town halls and churches. Take a stroll down main street and you’re sure to meet some of Elkhorn’s hearty and eclectic year-round residents who are eager to chat about their town’s deep history.

Traveling to Elkhorn is easy, and possible in the summer with a two-wheel drive vehicle. From Big Sky, travel north to Bozeman and take I-90 to Exit 256 towards Montana 69 and follow signs for Elkhorn on your right. After a ghostly visit to Elkhorn, book a stay or take a visit to Elkhorn Hot Springs for a soak and a delicious meal.



Springtime Garden Essentials

Posted on May 14, 2018 by calliep

Three New Garden Essentials for your Big Sky Property

If you are ambitious enough to try to have a garden in Big Sky (it can be done!), you need to start with the best tools. The tools behind a healthy, beautiful lawn and garden are becoming more advanced and useful every year. And as any gardener knows, half the allure of maintaining a beautiful backyard landscape and garden is the opportunity to play with some cool, specialized tools. So here are three hot new garden products to keep your Big Sky property looking fresh.

Blossom Lawn Irrigation Controller ($149)

The Blossom Lawn Irrigation Controller is part of a new wave of analytic technology targeted at reducing excessive municipal water use. The beautiful green lawn has been a staple of the American residential dream for generations, but unfortunately, the beauty comes at a cost. Studies show a staggering amount of water wasted over the course of a year spent watering a single American family home. The Blossom Is here to help. Simply remove your old irrigation system controller, install the Blossom and control your irrigation profile from the Blossom app on your phone or tablet. The Blossom adjusts its schedule based on precipitation and is wirelessly connected to a number of local weather sources to configure the most efficient and waste-free watering schedule possible.

Jackson Thermoformed Poly Wheelbarrow ($139.97) 

This surely isn't your daddy’s old wheelbarrow. The 5.75 cubic foot Thermoformed Poly Wheelbarrow from Jackson is a gold standard in yard carts, and no serious mulching job should be attempted without one. This wheelbarrow’s thermoformed poly construction and stabilizer feet increase its lifetime spent in your backyard. Perhaps most importantly though, the Jackson Thermoformed Poly Wheelbarrow has a 16” tubed tire that allows users to adjust inflation in accordance with different surface types and loads.

Ames 26" Dual Tine Rake ($24.97)

The phrase “Innovative new rake design” might sound a whole hell of a lot like “reinventing the wheel”, but the 26" Dual Tine Rake from Ames really is something of a watershed moment for raking. Featuring two rows of offset teeth to prevent leaf clogging, the Ames rake cuts down on the more frustrating aspects of raking while keeping your lawn leaf-free. Oh, and a slick comfort handle keeps your hands blister-free, too.

Make sure to check out Big Sky Landscaping's Garden Center for all of your flower and vegetable starter plants, or Wildwood Nursery for your tree and shrub needs. If they don't also have the tools you need, Ace Hardware is sure to have the rest! 

And don't worry, our flowers and vegetables learn to be pretty hardy around here :)

Moonlight Basin - July 2016



"Spring" Into Action - Volunteer Opportunities

Posted on April 23, 2018 by calliep

Volunteer Opportunities in the Big Sky and Greater Bozeman Areas

Wintertime can feel pretty cooped up, particularly if you aren’t making an impact. Now that Big Sky Resort and Bridger Bowl have ended their ski season and you may have some extra time until the summer season hits, volunteering is one the easiest ways to beat these doldrums, and round out your personal and work life with some good old-fashioned helping your neighbor. Whether you like working with kids, adults or animals, we’ve got the volunteer opportunity just for you.

Gallatin River Task Force

The Gallatin River Task Force is charged with making sure one of our most precious resources stays healthy for all to enjoy, and for years to come. Some of their ongoing programs are the Upper West Fork Restoration Project, and the Moose Creek Restoration Project. They offer several opportunities to lend a hand, one of which is coming up next week on May 1 - Moose Creek Volunteer Planting Day - where you can give them a hand planting harvested willows along the bank. For more information about this event or other volunteer opportunities, contact Kristin Gardner at 406.993.2519 or

Thrive’s CAP Programs

The Child Advancement Project matches adult mentors with students in Bozeman and Big Sky Public Schools whom need additional support to get ahead. Students range from kindergarten through seniors in high school and are provided with additional emotional and academic support in order to help them discover who they will become in the future. The CAP Program is Bozeman’s only evidence-based mentoring program and is now a part of the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Learn more about becoming a CAP mentor here.

Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter

It takes a ton of work to keep an animal shelter running smoothly, and that often means a lot of help from volunteers. Cats need food, water, fresh litter and a healthy dose of cuddling. Dogs need walking, lots of petting and fresh food and water. Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, Gallatin Valley’s major pet shelter, employs a tiered approach to training their volunteers which allows for advancement through the ranks and opportunities for new experiences as a volunteer pet handler. Learn more about how to get involved here.

Eagle Mount

Love to spend time outdoors? Help someone less-abled enjoy Montana’s mountains, too. Through being an Eagle Mount volunteer you’ll help people with a wide variety of mental and physical disabilities ski, ride horses, swim and even garden. Learn more about eagle mount volunteer opportunities here.


Ophir Elementary Students

Ophir Elementary Students


4th Annual Art Auction and VIP Reception

Posted on March 30, 2018 by calliep

On March 21 and 22, Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty sponsored the Arts Council of Big Sky's VIP Artist Reception and 4th Annual Art Auction. For the second year in a row, the auction raised tens of thousands of dollars to support the arts throughout Big Sky, including the Music in the Mountains summer concert series, the winter season of Warren Miller Performing Arts Center programs, programs connected to the local school, and much more.

This year's artist reception featured painter Carol Hagan, and we are fortunate to enjoy a number of her paintings hanging within our office, courtesy of Carol and Creighton Block Gallery in Big Sky. We had 60-70 people in and out of the office on Wednesday afternoon, chatting with Carol, enjoying wine poured by Colleen Helm, certified sommelier and owner of Bozeman's Vino Per Tutti; and featuring tasty hors d'houevres by Lindsie Hurlbut. What a great opportunity to talk with Carol about her art and inspirations!


The following evening was the highlight of the two days with the Art Auction at the Moonlight Basin Lodge featuring over 30 artists contributing art to the silent and live auctions. Live auction artists included well-known painters Kevin Red Star, Tom Gilleon, John Potter, Harry Koyama and Carol Spielman to name a few, and they performed a quick finish session, allowing us to catch a glimpse of what goes into completing one of their masterpieces. In addition to the outstanding paintings, several sculptures were included in the offerings as well.


New this year, the silent auction was modernized by using a digital online platform opening the bidding up remotely to those not able to attend the event. It brought a new level of sophistication to the overall event, and allowed the auction to expand. In addition, the live auction items were included in the online platform allowing everyone to preview the items featured in the live auction in advance. It was a treat to be able to feature so many more artists from near and far, including many Big Sky local favorites like Lorri Lagerbloom, Ryan Turner, Shelly Bermont, Megan Buecking, Heather Rapp, and many more.

This year's event was a sellout, and next year's planning is already underway. If you missed out on attending the 2018 event and want to make sure you have tickets for next year, contact your Big Sky Sotheby's agent, or our main office at, so we include you in our Save The Date notification for 2019.


Whether it’s riding or guiding in the backcountry on horseback, floating one of the three surrounding valleys catching a trout on a fly rod, downhill skiing, or her newest passion, skijoring, Justa Adams, Sales Associate, Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty makes the most of everything Big Sky country has to offer.

Skijoring is a winter sport  that involves a skier being pulled by a horse through a course with jumps and gates in the fastest time possible and  Justa  is a  founding member of the Big Sky Skijoring Association (BSSA), which recently held its inaugural “Best in the West” showdown on March 17th-18th right in Big Sky’s Town Center. Her background in  fundraising and event planning, combined with the hard work and dedication of her BSSA co-founders and the tremendous support of the Big Sky community, proved invaluable in getting this family-friendly event off the ground.  All ages attended -  with the youngest skier at 4 years old and the oldest rider at 65 years old, the Best in the West Showdown really is an event for all ages whether you’re a spectator, competitor, or volunteer. Eighty-two teams competed in numerous divisions with the total payout pot being just over $10k for all competitors and divisions combined, in addition to custom belt buckles awarded to the winning rider and skier for the novice, sport, and open divisions. With the incredible success of BSSA’s first competition, Justa can hardly wait until next year!


Waxless XC Skis for a Busy World

Posted on March 22, 2018 by calliep

Waxless Skis for a Busy World

Although in many parts of the world spring is in the air, that isn't the case in Big Sky where we've had one of the best winters in decades. The cross country trails are still in full operation and being groomed regularly, and with changing snow conditions at different elevations, considering waxless skis may make your life easier.

If you watched any Nordic skiing events at this year’s winter Olympics, you may have heard how often color commentators and coaches talk about wax. It’s a big deal in the Nordic skiing world, particularly for classic skiers. The perfect wax job can mean the difference between running up hills and going nowhere. The difference between world cup skiers and you? They have a team of professional wax technicians to do the heavy scraping for them while you have three kids and a full-time job. So unless you have a friend who is considering becoming your personal wax technician, waxless skis are worth perusing. Think old-school fish-scales, only with strips of modern mohair skin under the skier’s foot rather than scale. World Cup races are being won on these “skin skis”, and they require less waxing than your pair of skate skis.

Check these options out:

 Atomic Redster C9 Skintec Hard

Billed as Atomic’s first skin ski that’s race-ready, the Redster is aimed at hobby racers or higher-end amateurs who want a dependable ski to train on without the fuss of a waxable ski. The Redster has a Nomex Featherlight core and is built with a carbon laminate, making it super light yet stable. The kick patch area of the ski is slightly wider, giving skiers a reliable base to step into and unlike competing models, the Redster’s kick patch is one large piece of skin material, rather than two strips.

Fisher Twin Skin Pro

Fischer describes their mid-range skin ski as “athletic”, and “ideal in hard or icy conditions”. Indeed, icy unpredictable conditions are really where skin skis start to stand out. The Twin Skin Pro features two offset strips of Mohair skin under each foot that are set at various depths into the ski’s base giving the skier a natural, nearly-waxed feel to their stride.

Salomon S/Race Skin

Billed as the ultimate solution for all day events in changing conditions, the Salomon S/Race skin ski is spendy, but worth it. At 1040 grams, the S/Race features a traditional racing sidecut (44 mm at the tip, waist and tail), interchangeable Pomoca skin inserts, and a super fast low-profile camber that optimizes snow contact. The Solomon S/Race is the fastest ski ever made by Salomon.

Whether you consider trying these skis, or sticking with the old favorites, get out there and enjoy the trails at Lone Mountain Ranch!


Montana Wildflowers

Posted on March 22, 2018 by calliep

Springtime Wildflowers

When the winter snowpack sheds off Montana’s grassy hillsides and foothills, a suite of gorgeous and unique wildflowers make their annual appearances. Enthusiasts and Montana residents alike argue that wildflowers are what make Montana so perfectly picturesque. While our towering peaks and wide valleys radiate their own type of appeal, the addition of wildflowers to the Treasure State’s landscapes completes many of our country’s most iconic vistas. Whether you’re wandering around your own property, or enjoying a new trail hike through Southwest Montana’s wonderful public land, wild flowers are everywhere in the spring. Here are a few species you’re bound to encounter on any springtime wildflower hike:    


Silky Lupine is a flagship Montana wildflower. First cataloged on the Lewis and Clark expedition in June of 1806, the Silky Lupine is a stunning purple-ish conical wildflower that peppers a variety of Montana landscapes, from lowland sagebrush to openings in aspen and conifer woodlands. The Silky Lupine Is a member of the pea family, and can colonize in low-fertility sites. For this reason, the stately silky lupine flower is often found near old mining sites, rail roads or places recently ravaged by fire. While the Silky Lupine is a steady source of calories for a variety of Montana wildlife, including Glacier National Park’s Bighorn Sheep, the Silky Lupine is toxic to the nervous systems of domesticated livestock. Lupine is responsible for killing more livestock in Montana, Idaho and Utah than any other plant genus combined. 


Glacier Lilly:

The Glacier Lilly is another of Montana’s more well-known flower species. First collected on the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Glacier Lilly, or Avalanche Lilly is often one of the first flower species to emerge after the snows melt. The Glacier Lilly has beautiful yellow petals that bend upwards towards the sky. But perhaps the best part about the Glacier Lilly is its edible properties.  This Montana wildflower is known for a peppery taste that seems to intensify later into the season. The entire flower is edible, with varying degrees of spiciness found in each part of the plant.


The Forget-Me-Not is an inseparable element of the Montana alpine landscape. Clustered in little bunches of bright, soft blue flowers, the Forget-Me-Not is at home in craggy alpine landscapes, or at home in soil that is loamy, well-drained, shaded and has a fair dose of sand or grit present. The Mountain Forget-Me-Not flowers from the months of June through August.


Common Paintbrush:

 If you’re out fishing any of Southwest Montana’s high alpine streams this year, you’re likely to encounter the Common Paintbrush. As its name implies, the common paintbrush looks like exactly that; a paintbrush that’s been dipped in scarlet acrylic.  Common paintbrush can reach a height of one to three feet and prefers moist soils in meadows or along streams in montane to subalpine zones.

Check out the Big Sky Community Organization's trail map to find trails like Uplands and Hummocks, just outside Big Sky Town Center, where these flowers can be found in Big Sky.











 Photos by Dave Pecunies Photography.


This Land Belongs to You and Me

Posted on March 21, 2018 by amyg

By Kali Gillete

Preserving this land is an awesome responsibility in every sense of the word. Maintaining open spaces protects our economy, whether it’s through farming and ranching, tourism and recreation, or conservation. Just as important, is keeping our backyard playground free for everyone to enjoy.

Fortunately, there are means to ensure our land is protected, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of one interest over another. Two of the most successful methods are designated Wilderness Areas, and conservation easements. These protections are vastly different, yet work in conjunction to keep our both our heritage and our land intact.

Wilderness Areas are undeveloped, wild areas of public land protected by the American people for hiking, horsepacking, hunting, fishing, skiing, rafting and many other outdoor activities. Conservation easements are voluntary, private agreements that ensure the land is preserved for perpetuity. Understanding what each of these programs are and how they work is crucial to maintaining our rich land, our economic vitality and our uniquely precious lifestyle.


Certain lands are so pristine and amazing the government determined they should always remain as they are. As such, on September 3, 1964, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act creating the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Scott Brennan, Montana State Director of The Wilderness Society explains, “All of these lands are federal public lands owned by Americans. This is what the world was like before development. These are the last remaining places you can go and see America as it was centuries ago, before the natural world was largely dominated by people and our technology and mostly left to its own devices.”

He goes on to say, “We are really fortunate in Montana to have places like the Lee Metcalf, the Bob Marshall and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Areas. It’s easy to take these areas for granted, but we shouldn’t. The fact is, these places still look like they did hundreds of years ago. They are really special and not just for the beauty and recreation, they are good for business and also great for nearby real estate investments in communities like Big Sky.”

In order to understand the importance of a Wilderness designation, it’s important to understand the difference between designated Wilderness Areas and Wilderness Study Areas.

In Montana, about 5% of the land has been designated Wilderness Areas by Congress. Another 5-6% of the land looks and feels wild. There is no mining, development, gas or oil drilling. However, these lands are in limbo; they are not officially protected and not yet developed. Congress temporarily protected some of these areas to conduct studies before granting an official designation. Today, the studies have been completed and it’s up to Congress to decide what areas should be permanently protected.

Obviously, there are opinions on both sides of the issue. “There’s a right way to get this done,” Brennan says. “You get diverse interests to come to the table and come up with a resolution. It’s not all or nothing, it’s not win or lose. The wilderness guy is not going to get everything, and neither is the snowmobiler but people have to work together to take care of these places.”


A great example of this is the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act which seeks to add 79,000 acres of wilderness designation to the Bob Marshall, Mission Mountain and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas, promote forest restoration and designate new mountain bike and snowmobile areas. Working together, representatives from lumber, recreation, out tters and conservation interests are working toward a sustainable plan for all. The project champions a sustainable timber industry with a focus on restoration of sh and wildlife habitat. It supports tourism, the fastest growing sector in Montana’s economy, and it protects high-quality wildlife habitat, clean water and recreational opportunities.

For this, and other projects in the works, support from Congress is needed for an official Wilderness designation.


America loses more than an acre of farmland every minute. In Montana, we lose 1,500 acres of open space to development each month. However, unlike designated Wilderness Areas, conservation easements are privately held and are the only conservation tool to permanently protect private land. Other than generous income and estate and tax incentives, there is no government involvement. These land easements are voluntarily put into place by landowners to maintain the integrity of their land in perpetuity. From an agricultural perspective, the most essential part of Montana’s economy, these easements protect not only our economic interests, but are vital to food supply.

Kathryn Kelly, Greater Yellowstone Manager of The Montana Land Reliance explains, “Between all land trusts, 2.5 million acres to date have been protected across Montana. But there is much more opportunity, much more land deserving of protection.” There is no other place where this example is more obvious and direct than in the Gallatin Valley. “Due to tremendous development pressure, rich agricultural lands, open space and wildlife habitat are being converted into subdivisions and commercial development at a rapid pace,” Kelly says, “fortunately, there are generous landowners willing to protect their lands and a number of current easement projects in the works in Gallatin, Park and Madison counties.”

Often times, these private lands are adjacent to public land. Easements on these properties can bridge the gap between wildlife corridors, reducing the conflict between humans and animals, maintaining critical migration paths. “If you think about it in a practical sense, animals don’t make a distinction between private and public land. These easements enhance and benefit both public and private lands. They also maintain our riparian zones and ensure clean water, one of the most precious resources in Montana,” Kelly says.

A great example of this is the land behind Moonlight Basin which connects two areas of the 260,000 acre Lee Metcalf Wilderness through a conservation easement. The owners of Moonlight sold 17,000 acres to conservation buyers who put 15,500 into easements, protecting a critical wildlife migration corridor. This area is surrounded by 3 million acres of National Forest, and ultimately joins with the 20-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

To permanently protect their land, landowners work in partnership with a land trust, which are not-for-profit organizations, to create a conservation easement; a voluntary agreement that limits the uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values in perpetuity. Under a conservation easement, the owner retains the title and continues to make the day to day management decisions related to the property. For example, a family owned farm will still operate as such. The owner can opt to sell the property, but the easement runs with the title, ensuring the land is preserved as intended.

“Like anything, you run the gamut of opinions in every direction,” Kelly says. There are people who believe that conservation easements are one of the most valuable tools to protect open space and wildlife habitat. Others are philosophically opposed to the concept.They feel that one person shouldn’t have the right to permanently dictate how land might be used. Sometimes it’s in the context of ‘Why would I tie my children’s hands by putting an easement in place?’ Whereas someone else might say, ‘I’m doing it for the benefit of my family and children’.”

In turn, there are attractive financial incentives for an owner to put land into an easement. Deductions are in place for income, estate and gift taxes. To underline the importance of this, in 2015 Congress made enhanced income tax benefits for conservation easement donations permanent.

To determine the value of the conservation easement, a qualified appraiser measures the difference between the value of the property before and after the easement restrictions are put in place. The difference between the two values is the amount that can be donated to the land trust and taken by the landowner as a charitable donation on their tax return. In the year the conservation easement transaction is completed, a landowner can deduct up to 50% of their adjusted gross income and for an additional 15 years thereafter until the charitable contribution value is used up. Landowners who are considered qualified farmers and ranchers can deduct 100% of the annual adjusted gross income, also for up to 16 years in total.


Without Congressional or private protection our wilderness, farming and ranching land is vulnerable to mining, clear cutting and development. As Brennan puts it, “Once it’s done, you can’t go back. It’s one thing if the land is disrupted by a forest fire, in 100 years it will return to it’s natural state. But you can’t just ‘make more’ of these really special, natural areas once they have been developed.”

Categories: Southwest Montana

Sotheby's Agent Networking Event in Big Sky

Posted on February 20, 2018 by calliep

Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty - Ski NE 

Late last month, Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty hosted approximately 100 Sotheby's agents from across the country for what has been branded the "Ski NE"; a Sotheby's agent networking event. Agents came from as far away as Maine, clear across to Southern California to experience what Big Sky has to offer, and connect with other agents. We spent several days skiing and dining together, enjoying a day of speakers talking about their business and inspirations, social events hosted by sponsors, and making connections in order to better serve our clients around the world. The idea first came to fruition in 2016 with the first annual event hosted by Sierra Sotheby's in the Lake Tahoe area. It was such a successful event that they held the event a second time in 2017 before passing the torch to Big Sky. 

Agents networking

It was the perfect opportunity to introduce agents to the wonder of Montana, and Big Sky in particular. The secret is getting out that Big Sky is an up and coming ski resort town in the midst of incredible growth, and Buyers from around the world are interested in real estate in Big Sky. The allure of Big Sky is that when compared to other well-developed resort towns like Aspen, Park City, Lake Tahoe and Vail, there is so much "value". Although property prices are deemed high when compared to many primary home markets, it's still comparatively inexpensive for a year-round resort town.

During the few days we had together, we heard from a selection of inspiring and top producing agents like Jeff Wilson of TTR Sotheby's International Realty in the greater Washington D.C. area, and former Olympian snowboarder Chris Klug from Aspen Snowmass Sotheby's International Realty. We socialized at luncheons and cocktail parties hosted by some of our sponsors all the while making personal connections. And of course, there was plenty of skiing. This has been a banner ski season at Big Sky Resort with some of the deepest snowpack in the country, and we made sure everyone enjoyed it! On the final official day of the event, around 30 agents enjoyed a fun Pro-Am dual ski race, testing their time against 2002 bronze-medalist Chris Klug. Although Chris bravely competed on his freestyle board, he vowed to bring his race board next time to show us all how it's really done!

Agent Chris Klug

When Sotheby's agents get together, not only do we have a good time, but we make personal connections that allow us to help our clients with properties anywhere in the world. With 18,000 Sotheby's International Realty agents in 800 offices in 61 countries, you never have to search for an agent on your own again. Look no further than your local Sotheby's agent to help connect you with a Buyer or Seller agent anywhere in the world. Although the number of agents seems astounding, the ability to network and find a direct connection is unparalleled by any company. It's even better than the six degrees of separation - usually more like one or two to make a direct connection.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, from Arizona to Zanzibar, let us be your Global Real Estate Advisor!


Listening to speaker

Thank you to all of the sponsors that helped us put on such a successful event!

Natural Retreats Big Sky   Organic Return   InvitedHome   Jay Kipp, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty   Platinum Luxury Auctions

Agents socializing




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