A citizen proposed land swap could bring a 500-acre expansion of extreme ski terrain to the coveted Yellowstone Club in Montana. Yellowstone Club provides private ski-in access to Big Sky Resort in the Madison Mountain range of SW Montana. The land swap has been in the works for the last 12 months between public land users and private landowners.
The coalition responsible for all the inner workings of this deal is comprised of both. The community has until August 7th to learn more and provide feedback to this proposition before the next steps are taken to move forward with this land deal. The “East Crazy Mountains and Inspiration Divide Public Access Improvement Land Exchange” is aimed at providing better access for public land users, as well as creating access points that did not exist prior for public users. At the same time working with private landowners to address their needs as well.
This Interactive map will help you familiarize yourself with some of the specifics of this deal.
One portion of this proposal will involve 558 acres currently owned privately by the Yellowstone Club. This parcel will be swapped for 500 acres owned by Custer/Gallatin National Forest, near Eglise peak in the vicinity to existing ski lifts of Yellowstone Club. One stipulation of this land swap is that the land acquired by the Y.C. (Yellowstone Club) can only be used for ski terrain, not residential development. Based on this acquisition the Y.C. will be required to pay for building a new 22-mile trail network, utilizing the other portion of this swap in the eastern Crazy Mountains.
This new trail system will create a 40-mile loop opportunity, that will negotiate the entire mountain range. This is a win for public land users because no taxpayer funds will be used in the creation of this new infrastructure to this new access point into the Crazy Mountains.
The other portion of this deal is a land swap on the east side of the Crazy Mountains that would consolidate public lands down to a more usable area. To understand the benefit of this consolidation you must understand the difficulty of a practice called “checkerboarding”, widely used around the Crazy Mountains. This practice makes it difficult for public land users to determine access points to public land, that is guarded by private land surrounding it. I regularly experienced this difficulty in my time in “Big Sky Country”(M.T.), and my attempts to splitboard the Crazy Mountains specifically. Thus barring me from backcountry access that you can see from far away but cannot legally access reasonably.
Consolidating this 5,205 acres of acquired checkerboard land would equate to a 30 square mile block of easy to utilize access. This proposal is aimed at making access better for public land users while providing private landowners and ranchers with land that already has previously utilized infrastructure in place. This deal will also provide legal access for the Crow Indian Tribe to access Crazy Peak, which is a sacred peak that they have not been able to access reasonably due to checkerboarding.