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.
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.
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.
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.
THE WILD IN WILDERNESS
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.”
IT GOES BACK TO WHAT WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN; COMPROMISE.
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.
PRESERVING OUR WORKING LANDS THROUGH CONSERVATION EASEMENTS.
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.
IT BOILS DOWN TO THIS
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.”
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.
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!
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!
Thank you to all of the sponsors that helped us put on such a successful event!
Built along the Bridger Creek Golf Course, the Bridger Creek Subdivision offers a mix of single family homes, townhomes, and condominiums. Each winter, the 18-hole public golf course is turned into an extensive, groomed cross country ski trail - allowing for Nordic skiing right out your back door! Located only 20 minutes from the Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Bridger Creek is the perfect neighborhood for those who love to ski and golf.
The "M" Trail Popular hiking and mountain biking trail located a little over three miles from the subdivision.
Story Hills Trail Single-track mountain biking, running, and hiking trail located two miles away.
Sypes Canyon Trail Hiking and mountain biking trail located four miles away.
Mountains aren’t the only thing we have to thank Montana’s volcanic past for. Thanks to our region’s lava-filled geologic past, the Big Sky area is graced with a number of relaxing and unique hot springs. So if you find yourself in need of some rejuvenation, dip into one these regional warm-water meccas.
Norris Hot Springs
Tucked into the scenic and arid Madison River Valley, Norris Hot Springs offers visitors a kitschy, new age soaking experience, as well as a full beer and wine menu and a unique artisanal menu made out of locally-sourced and home-grown ingredients. Camping and RV hookups are available for an additional fee. Visit norrishotsprings.com for a full chemical content catalog of the healing minerals found in the one and only Water of the Gods.
Directions from Bozeman: Head west on Huffine through Four Corners, continuing west on highway 84 for 35 miles. Norris Hot Springs will be on your left just before entering the small town of Norris.
Chico Hot Springs
Chico is the classic Montana hot springs resort experience. Located in Paradise Valley, Chico Hot Springs offers a full range of lodging accommodations as well as extremely good dining options. In addition to the luxurious full-size soaking spaces, Chico also offers a full range of services to satiate even the most adventurous vacationer. including lodging and several restaurants. Chico offers guided ski and snowshoe trips in and around Yellowstone National Park, so when you’re ready to go face the elements, you can explore Montana’s winter wonderland. In the spring, take advantage of Chico’s exclusive partnership with Paradise Adventure Company, a full-service rafting outfitter located in Paradise Valley. And don’t forget, Chico has a renowned spa, so after the rapids have settled, work out your sore muscles with a massage or some yoga.
Directions from Bozeman: Follow I90 E towards Livingston, then take 89 S to Mill Creek Road in Pray. Take a right onto Highway 540 towards Chico Road.
Bozeman Hot Springs
Although decidedly less earthy, Bozeman Hot Springs is one of the oldest functioning hot springs in the region. Where Norris is a cultural experience, Bozeman Hot Springs is a workout facility, so if you’re in need of physical exercise and recuperation, this is your hot springs. After a devastating fire in 2008, Bozeman Hot Springs underwent a full renovation, transforming the old space into a beautiful, modern warm-water spa and gym. Bozeman hot springs now features live music, a full workout facility, and both indoor and outdoor pools and hot springs.
Directions from Bozeman: Located just south of Four Corners on highway 191
Triple Tree is an exclusive community located in the Southside of Bozeman. With large one to three acre lots and expansive mountain views, the custom homes in this neighborhood are some of the most desirable in town. There is a focus on open space, evoking the feeling living on a ranch while only being minutes from Downtown. Bordering state land provides easy access to popular nordic, hiking and biking trail systems.
Triple Tree Trail: Hiking and mountain biking trail located within the subdivision.
Sourdough Trail: Hiking, mountain biking and groomed cross country ski trail located less than two miles away.
Main Street to the Mountains: Trail system linking over 80 miles of trails throughout town. Access point located less than two miles from Triple Tree.
We are so honored to have hosted a VIP reception for acclaimed artist Kevin Red Star in our office on March 22. The reception preceded the Arts Council of Big Sky's 5th Annual Art Auction held at Moonlight Lodge, sponsored by Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty. Kevin mingled with our guests, and spoke to us about his background and inspirations. Together, we viewed Episode One of the Sotheby's HouseGuest video series in which he is featured.
The following evening, our office hosted over 150 people at the Art Auction, a huge fundraiser for the Arts Council of Big Sky's cause. There were over a dozen artists in attendance who were finishing off pieces to be auctioned at the event. Artwork in the live auction included pieces from artists such as Kevin Red Star, Tom Gilleon, Carol Spielman and Harry Koyama. In addition, there were photographs, jewelry and paintings from local artists such as AriO Jewelry and Kira Fercho in the silent auction.
All of the proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the Arts Council's mission of providing residents, visitors and artists with premier events, education and creative opportunities in the arts.
We currently still have a number of his paintings featured in our office, so stop by anytime to enjoy them!
The town of Big Sky, and Big Sky country in general, is a mecca for Nordic skiing. Between Lone Mountain Ranch and the miles of groomed ski trails around the greater Gallatin County region, nordic skiing, and specifically skate skiing, is one of the best activities for getting into the woods and away from the crowds, fast. But unlike downhill skis, skate skis require more frequent waxing and at-home care, especially now as the weather changes from winter to spring-like conditions. This may sounds overwhelming, but don’t worry; waxing is one of the sublime pleasures of being a nordic skier. Here’s a quick primer on the basics of waxing skate skis:
What you’ll need:
1) Ski vice or clamps, homemade or store bought
2) Glide wax
4) Waxing iron
5) Cork block
Before being stowed away every spring, skate skis should receive a coat of “storage wax”, which needs to be removed every fall. After affixing your skis to your chose work surface, set your wax iron to medium heat and begin slowly heating the base of your ski. As the iron and the ski get hotter, the existing wax with turn ghostly white and stand out. Scrap off all the old wax to give yourself a new start.
After the ski is stripped and ready for wax, it’s time to give your skis their first coat of glide wax for the winter. Begin the waxing process by holding your wax block at a steep downward angle to the face of the iron, allowing hot wax to drip onto the ski.
Cover the ski with little blotches of wax from tip to tail. After the ski is fairly covered, begin spreading the wax around the ski’s base by running your iron in circular motions across the ski’s base. You will see the wax melt and spread. Continue this waxing motion until the ghostly white wax covers the ski base entirely. Because nordic skis have relatively soft bases, be careful to not melt the ski’s base.
Now it’s time to scrape. Hold your wax scraper at 45-degree angle to the ski as you pull the scraper towards yourself. You’ll see satisfying curls of excess wax pull from the ski. Once the excess is pulled from the ski, the bases should appear shiny and smooth. If you want to put some additional elbow grease into the work, buff the skis bases with a cork block to work the wax into the base.
Now get your skiing clothes on and get out the door!
The Elevation 6000 condominiums, located in Big Sky’s thriving town center, mark a new second-home trend in the greater Big Sky area. Built by Big Sky Dream, LLC and Managing Partner John Romney, the Elevation 6000 condominiums are efficient, comfortable, customizable and part of the changing face of the Big Sky community.
For John Romney, the Elevation 6000 project is a labor of love in a place that he now calls home. Romney originally developed property in Big Sky in 2005 and became a full-time resident with his wife and three children in 2008. Since then, Romney has been active in the Big Sky building scene, helping to bring to life four separate mixed-use commercial and residential buildings, including the Lone Peak Cinema and Phase 2 of the Cottonwood Crossing residences. Elevation 6000 is his most recent creation. We sat down with John Romney to ask him about his new project, and what sets the Elevation 6000 condos apart from other housing options in Big Sky’s town center.
BSS: How long have you been in the building industry?
JR: Since 2011.
BSS: What is your favorite part about building homes in Montana?
JR: I love seeing and being a part of the overall development of the Big Sky Community, and in particular, the Big Sky Town Center. It’s great to be a part of the development of the entry corridor along Ousel Falls Road. I enjoy the mix of development from commercial buildings, to long-term rentals, to condominiums; all integrated with trail systems and recreational and entertainment options. The Town Center development has been thoughtfully approached to provide a continuity and mixture of architecture while maintaining a pedestrian friendly, community environment. I also love creating a “neighborhood” where different residents of the community interact.
BSS: What elements of Montana living, if any, do you incorporate into your residential projects?
JR: We do our best to incorporate the mountain views and outside space into our projects along with easy access to the trail systems.
BSS: What are some unique challenges that building in Big Sky presents?
JR: The biggest current challenges are finding good subcontractors with the substantial construction demand throughout Big Sky. We have been lucky to have worked with and maintained a great group of subcontractors continuously over the past several years. Weather is obviously a factor so we have traditionally started all of our projects in the spring leaving only interior finish items for the winter. We have learned from the experience of others and put a lot of extra work into our roofing and insulation systems.
BSS: What sets the Elevation 6000 project apart from other projects you’ve built?
JR: Elevation 6000 were built to sell to a primarily “second-home” market, so we are trying to “get into the hearts and heads” of potential buyers and build something they will love. The challenge in not knowing the buyer up front. So we come up with a palette of materials, colors, and styles that can satisfy a majority of buyers, yet still allow the buyer to ultimately put their personal imprint on the condominium with their furnishings.
BSS: Is the Elevation 600 project unique in terms of its efficiency as a building?
JR: The majority of our lighting is LED and we use high efficiency appliances and gas forced heating. One area where we don’t skimp is insulation. We use spray foam throughout the exterior walls was well as board and bat insulation which gives us an R rating much higher than what is required by code. While these items cost extra money up front (and are not always done in Big Sky), in the long run it saves on the operating costs; and I believe the buyers can feel and appreciate the difference.
BSS: What elements of the home do you hope that the future owners appreciate?
JR: To me the condos just “feel good” when you are in them. That is most important to me- that a place feels comfortable and has an overall warmth to it. The stairwells, ceilings and hallways are light, spacious and airy, and I believe this is something that owners and guests will immediately notice. In fact, we liked the units so much that we decided to keep one for ourselves as a place for our parents (or possibly more importantly our kids’ grandparents), and friends and family to stay when they visit Montana.
BSS: What’s your favorite design detail in this project?
JR: I can’t say I have a favorite. I like the exterior palette, colors and roof lines; I like the richness, the warmth, and the space of the interiors; and I like the interface between the units and the open space in the back and the easy access to Town Center.
BSS: How does the Elevation 6000 project embody the work that you do as a builder in general?
JR: We try to build great, high quality units with quality materials at a reasonable price. We are actively involved in all aspects of the project from day one, and are on-site continuously throughout the process. I believe this helps keep costs down and quality up. Frankly, I think to be able to build and offer new units of this quality at a price of under $300 per square foot in this current environment in Big Sky is a minor miracle.
Ben Coleman, the agent listing the Elevation 6000 condos with Big Sky Sotheby’s says “I’ve been fortunate to work with several developers in my 17 years of Big Sky real estate and John has been a pleasure to work with. He’s great to communicate with, very open minded and transparent. John wants to find a way so that everyone wins. I really enjoy that attitude
Though not everyone will be celebrating Christmas this week, it's safe to say that most will be spending time with family and friends. Check out these tips to help the environment, and keep you fire-safe, during the holidays.
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most spectacular wonders of the world, and we are fortunate to have it essentially in our back yard. But, did you know that in addition to millions of visitors passing through there in the summer, it is also open to the public in the winter? Except for a few weeks in the spring and fall when the park is closed to public traffic, you can experience the wonder during all seasons. While you are making your plans to be in Big Sky this winter to enjoy skiing at Big Sky Resort or cross country and sleigh-riding adventures at Lone Mountain Ranch, consider a visit to Yellowstone to round out your trip.
You can explore the park on your own by cross country skiing into the park, and within it from one of their year-round lodging facilities; you can take a guided snowmobile tour; or you can view it from the warmth and comfort of a Snowcoach. The tours are available to various places in the park including the Old Faithful area and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You can make it a day trip, or enjoy several days staying in the Snow Lodge or other hotel within the park. If you prefer to drive yourself, the section of road between Mammoth Hot Springs (North entrance) and Cooke City (East Entrance) is open on a year round basis. Below is a collection of information to help you make your plans. Don't wait, reservations for the tours and lodging within the park book early! West Yellowstone Snowcoach and Snowmobile Tours:Buffalo Bus Snowcoach TourBackcountry Adventures SeeYellowstone.comYellowstone AdventuresTeton Valley AdventuresYellowstone National Park Lodging This winter, the National Park Service is renovating the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, so they will be closed. However, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins are open and currently taking reservations for the winter season. If you are looking to stay in the park for a few days, consider booking a Snowcoach to transport you to Old Faithful where you can cross country ski or snowshoe, stay in the Lodge or a Cabin, and travel back out again on a Snowcoach. Cross Country Skiing/Snowshoeing There are a number of companies that offer guided ski and snowshoe tours into the park, including and Yellowstone Expeditions and Yellowstone Ski Tours. If you'd like to explore on your own, check out the National Park Service information found here.
Cold mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons must mean it's fall in Montana. And with occasional white-tipped mountains, it reminds us that winter is on its way. Just like we (try to) prepare ourselves for endless ski runs at high elevation, we need to get our homes ready for whatever winter has in store for us this year. In order to protect your investment and keep it in tip-top shape, consider these five suggestions to get your home ready for winter:
Prepare the home's exterior: Making sure everything is in good shape on the outside will help keep the "weather" on the outside, where it belongs. Check gutters to make sure they are clear. Ensure that roof shingles and siding are secure; high winds can loosen them over time. If you have heat tape or something similar to prevent ice dams on the roof, ensure that it's in working order and secure before it's covered in snow so it will be effective. Drain irrigation systems, and all exterior spigots if they aren't frost proof. Water can freeze and crack the fixture. Weatherproof doors and windows: A simple and inexpensive way to make sure cold air isn't seeping in is by making sure the weather strips on doors and windows are in good shape. That means not cracked, in one piece, and fitting snugly when the door or window closes. In older homes, adding storm doors and windows adds another layer or weather protection and helps keep energy costs down. Check the heating system: Furnaces and other heating sources should be serviced annually. Furnace filters need to be cleaned, and the efficiency should be monitored to make sure it's operating effectively. Gas-burning fireplaces and stoves should be checked and cleaned. Companies like Ambient Air Solutions offer maintenance programs to keep your home on an annual schedule so you don't have to remember.
Maintain Chimneys: There's nothing like relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace or wood stove after a successful day on the mountain, but chimneys that are used regularly need to be kept clean of dangerous creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. Have your chimney swept and inspected for foreign objects each year before you use it; and if you own a wood stove, make sure and clean it on a very regular basis to keep it energy-efficient. Stock up on winter necessities: Don't wait until the last minute to make sure you have salt or ice melt, shovels and other handy items for winter. Many of us wait until the first big storm to rush out and buy them, but we often find the stores are out of stock. It's never too early once you begin to see those items in the stores. And don't forget things like candles and matches, and batteries for flashlights in the event of a power loss. For those who would like some assistance in completing these important items, property management companies like Two Pines Properties and Big Sky Home Management are great resources to help you. Remember, the sooner you prepare your home for winter, the sooner you can start praying for snow!
Montana is well known as a fly fishing destination, drawing people come from all over the world to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, be it fishing, skiing, hiking, camping, or anything else outdoors. Local teacher and avid fisherman, John Hannahs, tells us what makes fly fishing in the Big Sky area so special. Watch the video.
With gorgeous peaks as the backdrop and a world-famous fly-fishing river babbling through the trees, Gallatin Gateway is the quintessential Montana community. Only twelve miles southeast of thriving Bozeman, Gallatin Gateway is close to the international airport, Big Sky Ski Resort, Yellowstone National Park, and plenty of wilderness to hike, bike, ski, fish, and relax. The local community is friendly and passionate about the beautiful outdoors and the being involved in the culture of nearby Bozeman and Belgrade. Gallatin School, established in 1884, enrolls approximately 150 students per year in grades K-8 and these students have shown higher than average student scores in reading, math, and science. The community is small and intimate, but has plenty to see and do for everyone: Little Bear School House Museum This adorable one room schoolhouse has been restored and turned into a museum to replicate what school looked like in 1912. Take a look at local memorabilia from the local baseball team, old lunch boxes, and an antique merry-go-round. Axtell Bridge A destination place for anglers as well as those looking to ditch the heat, this beautiful bridge through the trees and over the Gallatin River is a great place to spend the day by the river. Pack a picnic, a book, or a few flies for the rod and take a dip in the cool waters. Inn on The Gallatin Just down the beautiful Gallatin Canyon is the famous Inn on The Gallatin, a resort with cabins, campsites, and a wonderful cafe. Established in 1955, the Inn is a tourist and local favorite for its iconic vintage signs and it’s delicious food. Gallatin Gateway is truly the “gateway” to the mountains and your next Montana adventure. Whether you are looking to live in the area year-round or own your mountain escape, let our agents show you the beauty of southwest Montana.