Ringing in Our 120th Easement

November 19, 2021

Thanks to the generosity of Harald and Peggy Ring in Big Sky, we have officially completed our 120th GVLT conservation easement. A conservation easement, our primary tool for conservation, is a legal agreement between GVLT and the landowner that limits development on the property in perpetuity, keeping the landscape open and scenic forever. When a landowner places a conservation easement on their property, they are transferring a real property right, their ability to develop or subdivide the property, to the land trust and therefore reducing the value of their land.

Harry and Peggy Ring moved to the Big Sky area in the early 1970’s, just before Big Sky Ski Resort officially opened to the public. Harry had worked as a commercial gillnet fisherman in Alaska for 55 years. In Big Sky, he opened and co-owned a sporting goods store called Lone Mountain Sports (yes, that Lone Mountain Sports). Peggy owned design and home accessory stores in both the Mountain Village and the Meadow.

Peggy, an avid skier, was one of the first people ever to ski the Big Couloir in Big Sky with her poodle trailing behind. She first noticed the property that the Rings now own while Nordic skiing along the old logging roads of Big Sky. In the winter months, Peggy skied the logging roads to access the ridgeline south of the current property boundary and ski down to Beaver Creek.

At the time, the 200-acre property was owned and logged by Big Sky Lumber Company, but the Rings fell in love with the land’s diverse wildlife habitat, steep rolling hills, and dense conifer forests. They purchased the land in 1980 and have lived on and stewarded it for 30 years.

The parcel is located about three miles south of Big Sky near the Gallatin River Corridor. It is visible to the public traveling along US Highway 191 and Beaver Creek Road. The eastern portions of the land are adjacent to the highway and can be seen from several established community centers of Big Sky, including the public schools. Wilson Peak and Beehive Basin can be seen from the property, and viewsheds include both the Madison and Gallatin Mountain Ranges.

The land serves as both year-round and seasonal habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife, including elk, grizzly bear, gray wolf, mule deer, moose, mountain lion, sandhill crane, and grouse. Sagebrush grasslands provide valuable forage for elk and mule deer, while the eastern portions and north facing slopes provide tree cover for the numerous mammals that inhabit the area.

An unnamed stream that flows off Beaver Creek bisects the 200 acres, and Beaver Creek itself flows through the northwest portion of the parcel. Beaver Creek serves as an important cold-water input of the Gallatin River which flows less than two miles below the land.

The Gallatin County Growth Policy (2021) recognizes the importance of preserving open spaces in Gallatin County. By limiting future residential or commercial development of this parcel through the establishment of a conservation easement, this landscape will be protected on behalf of the greater community, thus promoting the perpetuation of the scenic rural feel of Gallatin County.

These 200 acres mark a total of 51,148 acres conserved through GVLT conservation easements. The viewsheds, water resources and unspoiled wildlife habitat of this gorgeous Big Sky property are now guaranteed to be protected forever. Not only did the landowners donate the entire value of the conservation easement, but they also made a generous contribution to the GVLT Stewardship fund. Our Lands Team is very excited to have helped bring the Rings’ conservation vision to reality.