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The Voice of the River

Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Develops Water Stewardship Plan

Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Develops Water Stewardship Plan

The Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum stakeholders reached consensus on recommendations for community-based priorities and actions to manage water resources in Big Sky. These actions will allow community partners to work together to address current impacts to water resources, maintain and enhance healthy river systems, maximize valuable and limited water assets, slow the flow of water through the watershed, and improve the community’s collective knowledge of the health of Big Sky’s water resources.

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From Big Sky Watershed Corps Member to Water Conservation Program Coordinator

From Big Sky Watershed Corps Member to Water Conservation Program Coordinator

In November, the Task Force welcomed not only the approaching holiday and ski season but also a new Water Conservation Program Coordinator. Emily Casey, our 2016 & 2017 Big Sky Watershed Corps Member transitioned to a new role as a full-time employee to help inspire a water conservation ethic across the community through two main projects: a water conservation rebate program and drought resilience planning.

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Big Sky Fourth Grade Students Explore Environmental Change

Big Sky Fourth Grade Students Explore Environmental Change

“If the water is not clear, nobody will want to play, raft, or fish the river…If nobody wants to play in the river, the economy will go down…because a lot of our money comes from sports in the river,” a fourth-grade student stated during a mock engineering summit at Ophir Elementary School. The Solutions Matter Summit was the culmination of a six-week unit of inquiry by the fourth-grade class exploring local and global environmental change.

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Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Begins to Identify Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Priorities

Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Begins to Identify Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Priorities

A collaborative group of diverse stakeholders has been meeting since June 2016 to address water resource management in Big Sky. The group strives to protect and enhance the health of the river systems while providing for the needs of a growing community. In a recent meeting, the Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum focused on identifying priorities for wastewater treatment and reuse. 

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First River Access Improvement Project Breaks Ground at Moose Creek

First River Access Improvement Project Breaks Ground at Moose Creek

Work to stabilize streambanks and improve river access has begun at Moose Creek Flat day use area. Restoration work at Moose Creek is the first of many projects lead by the Gallatin River Task Force and the Custer Gallatin National Forest that will enhance access and safety for river users and restore riparian habitat along the Gallatin corridor.

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Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Ron Bowlin retired from the Gallatin River Task Force board of directors at a board meeting on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017. Ron, a career Navy-man, served on the Task Force board of director for almost four years. At the same meeting, Rick Donaldson was named Gallatin River Task Force Board Chair.

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Community Meetings on Big Sky Water Resources in Gallatin Valley

Community Meetings on Big Sky Water Resources in Gallatin Valley

The Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (Water Forum) is hosting two community meetings in Gallatin Valley focused on Big Sky’s water resources. Stewardship decisions made in Big Sky affect both the Gallatin and Madison river systems. Meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on September 13 at the Belgrade Community Library and on September 18 at the Bozeman Public Library.

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Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Collectively Identifies Goals and Initial Priorities for Water Resource Management

Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Collectively Identifies Goals and Initial Priorities for Water Resource Management

 Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (Water Forum) stakeholders, representing diverse community and watershed perspectives, continue the collaborative effort to develop a unified watershed stewardship plan for the Big Sky area. This approach to water resources management is important because it helps the entire community work together to make decisions and manage water resources for the long term.

Participants have strongly stated that they want Big Sky to be a model community. Achieving that requires working together on common goals to address water resource challenges.

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Celebrate Fly Fishing and Conservation from June 30th to July 2nd, 2017 in Big Sky

Celebrate Fly Fishing and Conservation from June 30th to July 2nd, 2017 in Big Sky

The sixth annual Gallatin River Fly Fishing Festival will land in Big Sky on June 30th to July 2nd, 2017.

“We are really excited to grow the Fly Fishing Festival into a community-wide celebration of rivers and conservation,” said Kristin Gardner, Executive Director of the Gallatin River Task Force. “Thanks to new events and a great band, the 2017 Festival will be bigger and better than ever!”

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Water Forum Begins Initial Analysis of Solutions to Big Sky’s Water Resource Needs

Water Forum Begins Initial Analysis of Solutions to Big Sky’s Water Resource Needs

On April 27, Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (Water Forum) stakeholders and community members dove into initial analysis of what solutions might best address the water resource needs of growing human community and thriving natural river systems. Stakeholders representing community, business, conservation, recreation, downstream, local government, and agency perspectives have been meeting since June 2016 to create a community-based approach to water resources management.

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Annual Water Quality Report Summarizes Historic Trends and Yellowstone Club Spill Data

Annual Water Quality Report Summarizes Historic Trends and Yellowstone Club Spill Data

The Gallatin River Task Force began collecting routine water quality data in the Upper Gallatin River Watershed in 2000. This data is used to assess and track the long-term health of rivers and streams, plan for restoration projects, and identify and monitor unforeseen events. The 2016 Upper Gallatin River Watershed Water Quality Report outlines data trends observed between 2000 and 2016 and summarizes data collected after the wastewater effluent spill at the Yellowstone Club in March 2016.

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Water Forum Identifies Shared Water Resource Management Priorities

Water Forum Identifies Shared Water Resource Management Priorities

The Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (Water Forum) is moving forward toward setting goals to guide the future of water resources management. On January 12, stakeholders met to begin the identify common ground on what outcomes are desired. Designated Water Forum stakeholders and additional members of the community expressed perspectives on water resources outcomes and identified themes that represent major values and considerations as the group moves forward.

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2016 Volunteer Awards

2016 Volunteer Awards

We can’t believe that another year of monitoring and restoring the Gallatin River Watershed has come and gone! To date in 2016, the 114 members of the Volunteer Task Force donated 912 hours, drove over 3,000 miles, raised over $20,000 at the Hooked on the Gallatin Banquet, and harvested at least 5,000 willows.

Before we ring in the new year, we want to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of a few of the individuals who went to great lengths to protect the Gallatin River. Thank you to all of our volunteers, you make our work possible.

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Wastewater Treatment and Disposal May Be the Key to Sustainable Development in Big Sky

Wastewater Treatment and Disposal May Be the Key to Sustainable Development in Big Sky

Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum stakeholders shared information on wastewater treatment and disposal in the Big Sky area on November 3rd, 2016.

Wastewater treatment and disposal will play a critical role as Big Sky develops. Kevin Germain, Lone Mountain Land Company’s Vice President of Planning and Development, tied infrastructure to building community, “to solve affordable housing needs, we need to solve water and wastewater needs”.

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Sharing the Water: Water Supply and Availability in the Big Sky Area

Sharing the Water: Water Supply and Availability in the Big Sky Area

In the second of three meetings focused on information sharing, Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (BSSWS) stakeholders shared information about water supply and availability in the Big Sky area. Overall, water supply and storage are limited. This means that managing existing water supply is important for the future health of the Big Sky community, downstream users, fisheries, and the ecosystem.

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Average Snowpack and Early Runoff Leaves Gallatin River Streamflow Below Normal

Average Snowpack and Early Runoff Leaves Gallatin River Streamflow Below Normal

The Gallatin River Watershed received near average precipitation this winter, but an unseasonably warm, dry April lead to early runoff and low summer flows.

Skiers and snowboarders enjoyed plentiful powder days in December 2015 and March 2016. Persistent warm, dry conditions in April and May melted snow two to three weeks before the historic average. Early runoff meant whitewater enthusiasts were on the river well ahead of schedule, but streamflow in the Gallatin has been below average and declining since the last week of May.

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Rebates for Water Conserving Appliances Available this September

Rebates for Water Conserving Appliances Available this September

The Task Force is excited to reveal that the first phase of the Big Sky Water Conservation Program is scheduled to launch by the end of Summer 2016. All those who reside within the Resort Tax District will be eligible to participate in our Indoor Residential Rebate Program to replace their toilets, showerheads, and clothes washers with higher efficiency models from qualifying brands like WaterSense.

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Big Sky Businesses Step Up for Open Land

Big Sky Businesses Step Up for Open Land

The appeal of Big Sky is legendary. Celebrities, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts of every stripe find their way to Big Sky, drawn by the spectacular open lands, extensive trails and world-class waters.

Now, a growing network of local businesses has found a new way to help support the future of Big Sky. These businesses are making it simple for their customers to make small contributions, allowing anyone and everyone to contribute to the protection of this incredible place.

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Report Released for the First Phase of Monitoring after the Yellowstone Club Wastewater Effluent Spill

Report Released for the First Phase of Monitoring after the Yellowstone Club Wastewater Effluent Spill

The Gallatin River Task Force completed a report for the initial phase of monitoring after Yellowstone Club wastewater effluent spill. Data results indicate that Montana health standards were not exceeded at any of the sampling sites during the monitoring period. Aquatic life standards were exceeded for ammonia and sediment.

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What’s the (Give) Big Deal?

What’s the (Give) Big Deal?

We love rivers, especially the Gallatin River. Whether you spend your days chasing adrenaline-charged rides through rowdy waters or pursuing the perfect cast into a deep pool, we hope you agree that the Gallatin is a world-class river.

At the Gallatin River Task Force, we envision a healthy Gallatin River Watershed for future generations. On Tuesday, May 3rd, we invite you to become a part of our vision.

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DEQ Detected Low Concentrations of Pharmaceuticals

DEQ Detected Low Concentrations of Pharmaceuticals

On Thursday, March 3, 2016, a mechanical failure in a storage pond for tertiary treated wastewater discharged approximately 30 million gallons of treated effluent into Second Yellow Mule Creek and subsequently the Gallatin River. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) detected 18 pharmaceutical chemicals and breakdown products in water spilling directly from the Yellowstone Club wastewater pond and 11 chemicals in the downstream tributaries. Pharmaceutical concentrations measured after the Yellowstone Club Spill were below levels predicted to affect human health. DEQ results recorded an anti-convulsant and mood stabilizer, carbamazepine, and an antibiotic, sulfamethoxazole, at levels that could harm fish and stream insects.

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Lone Peak High School Students Want YOU to be Septic Smart

Lone Peak High School Students Want YOU to be Septic Smart

The Lone Peak High School Environmental Science class completed a service-learning project to educate the Big Sky Community about septic care and maintenance. This year, the class studied wastewater treatment systems and their relationship to water quality. The students learned about municipal wastewater treatment by touring the Big Sky Water & Sewer District plant and on-site wastewater treatment by developing bathroom signs for the school and businesses with septic systems.

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A Community Approach to Big Sky’s Water Future

A Community Approach to Big Sky’s Water Future

Healthy watersheds and clean and abundant water resources are a vital part of the Big Sky area, now and into the future. Big Sky is growing rapidly, with significant development projected in the next several years. In December 2015, the Gallatin River Task Force initiated an effort to gauge public interest in convening a community-based, collaborative watershed planning process in the Upper Gallatin Watershed. Beginning in January 2016, contacts were made with 32 watershed stakeholders representing community, business, and conservation interests as well as local, state, and federal government. Almost unanimously, there was strong interest voiced in participating in a community-based approach.

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Gallatin River Task Force Adds New Water Conservation Initiative

Gallatin River Task Force Adds New Water Conservation Initiative

Did you know, the average person in Big Sky uses about 125 gallons per day in winter and that number triples during the summer with irrigation use? Currently, Big Sky lacks a community-wide water conservation program but with a future forecasting drought conditions and a 2044 buildout projection: it’s time to start thinking about how much water we are using every day. The Task Force is working to develop a water conservation plan for Big Sky to ensure our community has an adequate drinking water supply. Take our Water Conservation Awareness Survey and help determine which water conservation programs should be implemented in Big Sky in the near future.

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How to Collect Fish Population Data

How to Collect Fish Population Data

On Thursday, the Task Force joined a team led by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to survey fish population on the South Fork of the West Fork (South Fork). Overall, the fish population appeared relatively healthy. Our team found 5 dead trout immediately downstream from the confluence with Second Yellow Mule Creek. Many sculpin showed evidence of fin erosion, related to high levels of suspended sediment carried downstream from the steep slopes exposed below the pipe failure.

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Routine Data Provides the Context Necessary to Evaluate the Yellowstone Club Spill

Routine Data Provides the Context Necessary to Evaluate the Yellowstone Club Spill

Recent events have demonstrated the importance of the Gallatin River Task Force Community Water Quality Monitoring Program. Thanks to volunteers like you, the Task Force was able to pinpoint the start and duration of the Yellowstone Club wastewater effluent spill and provide meaningful historical data that is being used to evaluate the impacts of the incident.

Help us continue this valuable work! Join the Task Force at an upcoming monitoring event: April 6th, 7th, and/or 8th to collect baseline water quality data for the Upper Gallatin River Watershed.

Help the Task Force to continue to be the local source for water resource information. Join us April 6th, 7th, and/or 8th to help collect baseline water quality data for the Upper Gallatin RIver Watershed.

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Free Well Test Kits Available Tuesday, March 8th at the Big Sky Post Office

Free Well Test Kits Available Tuesday, March 8th at the Big Sky Post Office

For homeowners with wells adjacent to streams affected by the Yellowstone Club effluent spill: if you are concerned about water quality in your well, the Yellowstone Club will cover the testing costs. Bring your well test kits to the Big Sky Water & Sewer District OR to Bridger Analytical Laboratory: 7539 Pioneer Way, Bozeman, MT 59718.

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NOAA vs. The Farmer’s Almanac: Whose prediction for the 2015/2016 winter has been the most accurate thus far?

NOAA vs. The Farmer’s Almanac: Whose prediction for the 2015/2016 winter has been the most accurate thus far?

This fall, the threat of a “super” El Niño for the 2015/2016 winter made national headlines. Forecasters called for flooding in California, drought in the Rockies, and a frigid winter in the Southwest. Now that the snow has started to fall in Big Sky, let’s see how two long-range forecasts compared to the winter we’ve experienced thus far.

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The Problem with Plastic

The Problem with Plastic

Over the weekend, the Task Force board and staff had the chance to marry their passion for hydrology and outdoor recreation. The Task Force board and staff are participating in the Gallatin Microplastics Iniative, a study by partner non-profit Adventurers and...

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The Water Forecast

The Water Forecast

Here is a summary of the Basin Outlook Report as of May, 2015 courtesy of NRCS. This winter brought record low snowfall and abnormally warm temperatures to the American West. Although Montana fared better than many Western states, the water outlook for this summer is...

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