Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana had to put its real estate plans on hold yet again after concerns about wildlife impacts. The proposed development area is directly adjacent to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, which is prime habitat for grizzly bears, wolverine, elk, wolves, and many more species.
The Madison County Planning Board put things on hold over 84 housing units to be built north of the golf course next to the wilderness boundary. Many locals, including Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks submitted concerns over wildlife impacts in the area.
The Moonlight Basin real estate development was founded in 1992, with the ski area opening on the north side of Lone Peak in 2003. Despite attempts to become a private, high end development, Moonlight always had more of a locals vibe. The resort went bankrupt in 2009 and its 900 skiable acres were eventually incorporated into Big Sky Resort’s terrain in 2013.
While the skiing is public, the real estate portion is still trying to be a high end private club. They’ve got a big fancy guard house, a partially built golf course, and a private ski lodge, but not a whole lot else. If you take a quick drive through the area you’ll see some condos and a few big houses, but mostly just lots and lots of trees.
Lone Mountain Land Company wants to build more than 1,600 residences on Moonlight’s 25,000 acres of land. The plans also include 270,000 square feet of commercial space, a five-star hotel, employee housing, and two new chairlifts. The development was approved way back in 2007, but has been delayed for one reason or another for the past decade. Kevin Germain, the V.P. of Moonlight Basin, hopes the latest delay will give them more time to address the wildlife impacts, and will be back in front of the planning Board by August.
Even thought they sound like the big bad developer, Moonlight is admirably focused as much on conservation as making money. About 14,500 acres of the land was purchased under a conservation easement and will never be developed. The resort even has plans to strictly enforce wildlife related rules like food storage and bear proof garbage cans.
With construction projects popping up left and right in the Big Sky area, the once sleepy ski town is getting busier every year.