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Big Sky, Past and Future

EPA Faulted By GAO For Water Rule Social Media Campaign

It seems the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has waded into another controversy, this time over a social media campaign for water regulation.

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Highway Bill Could Send Wyoming Millions In AML Funds

coal

If signed by President Obama, this year’s $305 billion highway bill in Congress could speed along hundreds of millions of dollars to Wyoming—but not for transportation.

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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 3, 2015

downtown Boise

Here’s your New West news: where investments went in Idaho in 2014, the Idaho Legislature mulls taking up solar energy in 2016, and the U.S. Forest Service looking at regulations for Colorado’s Conundrum Hot Springs.

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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 2, 2015

Today in New West news: potential for a Google data center outside Bozeman, a Colorado catheter manufacturer raises $15 million in venture capital, a University of Utah game company releases its first game for iOS, and a Gallatin County domestic violence shelter receives a DOJ grant.

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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 1, 2015

Brigham Young University North Campus

Today in New West news: Brigham Young University (BYU) researchers facilitate new vaccine manufacturing process, Montana Lt. Gov. Angela McLean resigns, the new face of marijuana security in Denver, and a Wyoming state geologist mulls the potential of phosphate rock mining in the Cowboy State.

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New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 24, 2015

Credit: Larry Johnson, "Denver Skyline at Sunset," December 17, 2009

Today in New West news: Denver City Council votes on construction defects reform, Utah Governor Gary Herbert regrets signing SB54, and the Interior Department aims to cancel Badger-Two Medicine oil and gas leases.

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New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 13, 2015

In New West news: what one man wants to do with Columbia Falls, Montana; the Provo City Center Temple rises from the ruins of Provo Tabernacle, and Governor Hickenlooper’s budget could potentially cut off funding for Colorado’s wildfire-mitigation grant program.

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New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 4, 2015

Today in New West news: voters have approved Measure 1A in Denver and Adams Counties, Intel expresses interest in a battery from a Fort Collins startup, and conservationists in Montana want to revive a lawsuit over the Badger-Two Medicine area.

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Moonlight Foreclosure Leaves Big Sky in Limbo

Creating a major new ski-and-golf resort is no easy trick - there have only been two in the United States in the last 20 years - and for a while it seemed that Moonlight Basin, opened in 2003, had made it over the proverbial hump.

Moonlight’s vision of building a comparatively eco-conscious resort, one where wildlife could roam unencumbered and construction was concentrated in a few core areas while leaving lots of open space, seemed to be right for the times. The real estate sales that would fund much of the development looked solid at the outset. The settlement of a bitter conflict with Big Sky Resort, it's neighbor on the other side of Lone Peak, appeared to create a great opportunity in jointly marketing the two resorts as the "Biggest Skiing in America."

But Moonlight, like so many big development projects across the West, was not equipped to handle a sudden collapse of the real estate business, and the radical shift in the credit markets that went along with it. When lot and home sales stalled last year, Moonlight stopped making payments on more than $100 million in loans while it frantically sought a buyer. The resort's long financial emergency culminated earlier this month in a foreclosure lawsuit by its primary lender, the now-bankrupt Lehman Bros.

Lee Poole, Moonlight's owner, says Lehman has assured him that it will provide the money to keep the resort open while the long-term financing and ownership issues are resolved - a process that could take a year or more. One way or another, Moonlight will almost certainly survive in some form - and its fate will have a big impact on how Big Sky evolves as a resort community.

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Big Sky Resort Still Growing Up

Ever since TV newsman Chet Huntley created it almost forty years ago, Big Sky Resort has been something of an anomaly in the ski industry. Unlike Aspen or Telluride or Crested Butte or Park City, there is no old mining town to anchor the development and give it historic resonance and flair. Unlike Vail or Squaw Valley or the big resorts of the east, there is no big metropolis a few hours away.

But unlike old-line Montana community ski areas such as Bridger Bowl or Snowbowl or Lost Trail, Big Sky has big terrain and big aspirations, and with next-door Moonlight Basin, it now markets itself as “The Biggest Skiing in America.”

With the economy in a deep funk, though, Big Sky Resort also faces big challenges – and how it addresses them will help determine whether Big Sky as a whole becomes a fixture among elite destination resorts, or just an out-of-the-way oddity with good powder and a lot of fancy second homes.

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