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Articles on this page:

The Best Fishing Towns in America - Bozeman, Montana's Fly Capital

Large Tracts of Premium Montana Land Driving Montana Real Estate Market in 2008
Lone Mountain Ranch Sold to Everlands Resort Network
Bozeman, Montana is in Top Ten Retirement Places in US

Yellowstone Club Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Bozeman Claims Montana’s First LEED Certified Green Home
Family Promise of Gallatin Valley to Host Second Annual Cardboard Box City
Bozeman Number 2 on Top 10 List of American ‘Dreamtowns’
State Tax Chief Says Montana Property Prices Holding
Billings Gazette Opinion: Montana's World Markets Growing

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Field & Stream Magazine, January 2008
The Best Fly Fishing Towns in America - Bozeman, Montana's Fly Capital

According to Field and Stream Magazine, "it's a coin toss between Missoula and Bozeman for the title of best fly fishing town in Montana, but because of its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman wins by a nose. Since 1970, Bozeman has blossomed from a sleepy railroad and college town into a western-chic hotspot for tele-commuters, artists, entrepreneurs-and fish junkies. But behind every new storefront veneer, that gritty cowboy culture is alive. You don't have to spend millions to buy up a chunk of river because the state's stream-access law allows you to wade within the high-water mark on most streams."

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Large Tracts of Premium Montana Land Driving Montana Real Estate Market
AMANDA RICKER Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer. January 17, 2008 

While the speculative market for subdivided rural land is “dead as a doornail,” premium property is rapidly selling to those who can afford it, said Clark Wheeler, a real-estate appraiser with Norman C. Wheeler and Associates in Bozeman and author of an annual Montana land valuation study released this week.

Large tracts of rural land in Montana sold for about 47 percent more in 2007 than the previous year, but the increase is because of rising demand for land filled with amenities like forests and water access rather than a function of land appreciation, according to the study. “The main thing we’re seeing this year, is what’s selling are the better properties,” Wheeler said Wednesday. “The reality is wealthy people continue to buy property and there’s a lot of wealthy people that want to move to Montana.”

Montana Real Estate Appraisals

The average value of large ranch transactions in Montana has increased from about $4.2 million in 2006 to $8 million in 2007, according to Wheeler’s study. That’s much higher than the previous peak year in 2005 when ranch transactions ran as high as $5.5 million.

Randy Carpenter, a land use planner for the nonprofit Sonoran Institute’s Bozeman office, said Wheeler’s study shows that the rural land market in Gallatin County is driven by buyers who are looking for large properties in an open landscape. Buyers will only pay top dollar for properties when there’s predictability that the surrounding landscape will not be carpeted by subdivisions, Carpenter said.

The report offers more evidence that Gallatin County’s proposal for countywide zoning would enhance rural land values, Carpenter said. The zoning would guide growth to existing towns and limit the paving over of the countryside. The county’s proposal would create zoning in all un-zoned and unincorporated areas. Opponents of the plan say it’s not government’s job to tell people what they can or cannot do with their land, and any zoning in a community should come from the people who live there, not government.

According to Wheeler’s study, the amount of acres sold in 2007 — in land transactions larger than 300 deeded acres — remained generally consistent with 2006. But 2007’s amount was still about half of the amount sold in 2005, when sales peaked, the study said. Some owners of lots in speculative rural markets figure it will be three years before falling values turn around, Wheeler said. In Broadwater County and fringe areas of Gallatin County, values have fallen 30 percent to 45 percent over the past two to three years, the study found.

A typical example of a speculative market that has faltered is the Wheat Montana area in southern Broadwater County, where divided land lacks water or trees, Wheeler said. Properties that often have extensive buildings are part of what’s selling, he said. For example, trophy ranches rather than operational ranches. Agricultural land values between 1998 and 2007 have appreciated about 14 percent, Wheeler said.

One reflection of the type of properties selling is the percent of building contribution to sales. In 2006, buildings added about $68 per acre to the average land value, according to Wheeler’s study. In 2007, buildings added an additional $207 per acre, an increase of more than 200 percent. The market continues to bless those with rare and high quality properties, Wheeler said. But as in the housing market, the owners of average properties will be sitting on the sidelines as the market re-corrects.

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Lone Mountain Ranch Sold to Everlands Resort Network
By Lucia Stewart, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, January 8, 2008


Lone Mountain Ranch, the historic and premiere Nordic ski resort in Big Sky, recently sold to  Everlands and will soon become a part of the worldwide luxury resort network, available only on a member-basis.  

Since 1977, Bob and Vivian Schaap have operated Lone Mountain Ranch as a guest ranch offering fly-fishing and horseback riding in the summer and 80km of cross country ski trails in the winter. Due to the ski trail’s integral part of the Big Sky community, the Schaap’s have made strict agreements with the future owners to continue public access and maintenance on all Nordic ski trails. 

Everlands focuses their acquisitions in the world’s historical resorts. Their collection includes thus far: the former Rockefeller estate, The Point at Saranac Lake in Upstate New York and the Oasis at Castle Hot Springs, a historic spa in Arizona, Blueberry Hill Inn in Martha’s Vineyard, and fishing lodges in Alaska, New Zealand and the Bahamas. Their getaway portfolio also includes a wild partridge habitat in central Spain, an Atlantic salmon property in Iceland, an estancia in Patagonia and a game reserve in Kenya. 

To become a member, it’s simple: by paying $1 million down, you have full, unlimited access to every boat, plane, horse and resort and yearly dues of only $40,000. Everlands’ mission is to conserve these extraordinary destinations, which have been selected for their historic importance and storied pasts, for future generations. 

The history of Lone Mountain Ranch stretches back to 1926 when the Butler-Kilburn family, Chicago paper mill tycoons, bought the ranch from the original homesteader for just $50 an acre. In just four short years they built The B-K, an elaborate spread of family cabins, a bath house, gatekeeper’s and cook’s cabins, an ice house, two guest cabins, corrals, and the dining room modeled after the grand elegance of Old Faithful Lodge. 

It was then sold a few times after World War II where it became a boy’s camp, a base area for a logging company, and by the mid-1950’s it finally became the Lone Mountain Ranch, a dude ranch and a hunting and fishing camp. It hosted a few owners in its later years, including the Big Sky Corporation. Before it was sold in 1977, Big Sky Corporation required a rigorous review, of which Bob and Vivian Schaap were selected out of 12 proposals due to its year-round plan for the ranch. 

Lone Mountain Resort then became a guest ranch and cross county ski resort, hosting family-style, locally-operated and providing horse back riding and fly fishing in the summer months. Lone Mountain Ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December of 2006. Article From NewWest.Net  

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U.S. News & World Report
Bozeman, Montana-Top Ten Retirement Places in US
Monday September 24, 2007 11:39 am ET By Alison Go


According to U.S. News & World Report, "the people of Bozeman, Montana, don't want this story to be published. They want the writers and photographers out, and they want the media to forget that their beautiful, once little town exists. "There's the idea that 'foreigners,' as we call them, are going to destroy old-time Montana," says Connie Lord, a longtime Bozeman resident and native of the state. When Lord returned to Big Sky Country after moving away for work, she discovered a transformed city. "What happened to my sleepy little town?" she wondered.

"Bozeman--an outdoorsy sanctuary tucked within the Rocky Mountains, just 93 miles north of Yellowstone National Park--anchors Montana's fastest-growing county. Bozeman is home to Montana State University, but it has also become a mecca to vacationers and tech-industry workers, along with retirees looking for peace, quiet, culture, community, and the great outdoors.

"Winters in Bozeman offer excellent skiing at the nearby glitzy Big Sky Ski Resort and local favorite Bridger Bowl Ski Area. For the warmer months, hiking trails snake through the foothills and canyons in every direction, while the Gallatin, Yellowstone, and Madison rivers, less than an hour's drive away, are teeming with avid fly fishers (fish, too).

"A historic downtown boasts cafes and boutiques and serves as the venue for a seemingly endless number of art fairs and music festivals. Opportunities abound for horseback riding, and dude ranches outside town attract tourists and sometimes even locals. The university, the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture, and the Museum of the Rockies add their own energy, culture, and academic pedigree to the scene.

"For Lord, who works at the university as a research technician, life revolves around ballroom dancing and the active two-step scene in Bozeman. She meets with her partner and other dancers from all over the county several times a week to practice, a time when sprightly senior citizens can mambo with 14-year-olds.

"Outsiders have found the area hard to resist, and fewer and fewer do. Bozeman has attracted plenty of wealthy retirees who gravitate toward pricey real estate on the outskirts of the city. And the influx of all those well-heeled seniors has made living in what some have jokingly renamed "Boz Angeles" nearly unaffordable. New, reasonably priced housing does exist--a three-bedroom house could go for $275,000--but for natives whose wages have not increased to match, the transformation is often startling.

"Change at the Bozeman Hot Springs mirrors the town's metamorphosis. The once dingy gathering spot has recently been transformed into a ritzy spa featuring nine pools filled with hot springs water, a fitness center, and a sauna.

"Yet as corners of the town are upgraded and reimagined to the chagrin of some locals, Bozeman's core appeal remains the same: a sense of community that's obvious in the city's many groups and meetups dedicated to skiing, hiking, painting, and knitting, to name a few. And as long as newcomers respect Bozeman's natural beauty and small-town feel, they're sure to feel welcome. The locals are a very nice bunch, really. Just don't tell them you're a reporter."

January average temperatures (high/low): 33/14      July temperatures: 82/52

Yellowstone Club Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - Big Sky, Montana
November 11, 2008

The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana filed for bankruptcy Monday, November 10, 2008 after its inability to secure financing arrangements with its creditors and bondholders.

Yellowstone Club spokesman, Bill Keegan said the Yellowstone Club filed Chapter 11 for protection in Montana federal bankruptcy court to protect the Club and its members.

Two months ago the Club, as it is called in the area, had announced it would begin new growth in conjunction with Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, but the recent national financial collapse forestalled this method.

Ensconced in Montana's Madison Range mountains, between the Gallatin and Madison Rivers, the gated, 13,400 acre Montana ski and golf resort opened in 1999, and holds memberships for former cycling great, Greg Lemond, Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, and former Vice President, Dan Quayle.

"We felt this step was necessary to address short-term liquidity constraints and preserve Yellowstone Club's long-term future," Yellowstone Club CEO, Edra Blixseth said.

More than likely a valid reason for the Big Sky, Montana-based Yellowstone Mountain Club getting into its present financial position is that the Club had added big loans to its debt burden in an effort to enlarge its properties and amenities beyond Montana. Yellowstone Club French Castle

In an bold effort to go global through the Yellowstone World Club, in the last three years Tim Blixseth purchased a Scottish golf resort, a least one estate in Mexico, a French castle, and Caribbean estate.

The Yellowstone Club has canceled the Yellowstone Club World both for lack of interest and, more importantly, because it needs the proceeds from, at least some, World Club properties to lower its debt burden and regain its position as a solvent private ski and golf community.

The first court filings, cite a combined debt of between $300 million and $1.5 billion and assets of from $700 million to $2 billion. The bankrupt companies include Yellowstone Mountain Club, Yellowstone Development, Yellowstone Club Construction Co, and Big Sky Ridge, according to Madison County, Montana court documents.

A special request filed in concert with the Yellowstone Club's bankruptcy papers asks U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph B. Kirscher to authorize a hearing as soon as possible to decide if the Yellowstone Club would be allowed use of its cash collateral by taking out a loan against the $1.1 billion the Club has in assets.

Papers filed in the bankruptcy state the Yellowstone Club has "an immediate need to use cash collateral, without which they would be unable to operate their businesses at this critical time…. Moreover… cash collateral alone is insufficient to afford the debtors the ability to manage their businesses and generate revenues.”

Yellowstone Club spokesman, Bill Keegan stated, “In the short term, we need cash to take care of members and infrastructure needs and supplies.”

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Bozeman Claims Montana’s First LEED Certified Green Home

By JESSICA MAYRER Chronicle staff writer, September 2008

"A cedar aroma from freshly laid mulch fills the air as one approaches Mike Wiseman’s five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath, 2,700-square-foot house, which emerged as the front runner among hundreds of homes designed to achieve LEED certification.

"His is the first LEED certified home in Montana. “Being first is like the cherry on top, but it’s not the main course at all,” said builder Rob Evans, of Constructive Solutions, Inc.

"Really, he said, LEED certification about livability and affordability while showing the average person a durable and environmentally friendly home can be achieved on a family budget.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the United States Green Building Council’s stamp of approval and there is growing interest in Bozeman Green homes.

"A structure is deemed environmentally friendly based on a range of criteria, including water-wise landscaping, energy-efficient appliances and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions...."

For the rest of the article, please go the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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Family Promise of Gallatin Valley to Host Second Annual Cardboard Box City

Cardboard Box City raises awareness of our local homeless families and helps raise funds to help Family Promise continue helping families. You are invited to attend!Participants collect pledges of a $100 minimum per sleeping box. You supply your own box, which can be obtained from appliance stores and the like. You decorate it however you like! City set-up from 5 - 7 p.m. at Bozeman's Bogert Park; then eat free pizza if you are a registered participant! Parade of Boxes is open to the public from 7 - 8 p.m. and prizes will be awarded for most creative design, oldest and youngest participants, most money raised per individual and group, etc. Sign Up Here, NOW!

The group, Diamond, will provide live rock and soul music from 8 - 10 p.m. Bring a musical instrument and jam with pros! Also, the evening will include personal stories from two formerly homeless guests of Family Promise. Come and learn more about homelessness and how you can help make a difference. A light breakfast will be served from 6 - 8 a.m on Saturday. Event concludes at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 4, 2008.
Family Promise of Gallatin Valley is a non-profit network of diverse faith groups working together to end Gallatin Valley homelessness one family at a time. Presently, 115 people, including 64 children, have been helped. Call 582-7388 for more information or go online to
Family Promise of Gallatin Valley (FPGV) Montana.     Related stories: 2007 Cardboard Box City

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Bozeman Number 2 on Top 10 List of American ‘Dreamtowns’
July 25, 2008, By KARIN RONNOW, Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer 

Bozeman keeps cropping up on national Top 10 lists and this week it appeared as No. 2 on’s new list of American “dreamtowns.” 

Dreamtowns are “small towns that offer the best quality of life without metropolitan hassles,” according to the Charlotte, N.C.-based company, which Thursday released the results of its national study of quality of life in “micropolitan” areas. 

The No. 1 dreamtown was, according to the study, Torrington Conn.. That city, with 190,00 people, is 81 air miles outside of New York City in northwestern Connecticut’s hill country. 

But Montana dominated the list, with Bozeman in second place and Helena and Kalispell taking fifth and sixth places, respectively. “The study was inspired by the heavy public interest in small-town life,” according to 

An estimated 235,000 families, seeking refuge from congested urban areas in places with less hassle and a greater sense of community, moved to nonmetropolitan areas in 2006, according to the Web-based publication. That’s an average of 640 families each day.

“But where’s the best place for them to go?” the publication asked. “(The study’s) aim was to identify communities that would be most attractive to people considering such a move.”

To compile the rankings, bizjournals compared 140 “micropolitan” areas in 20 statistical categories, using U.S. Census Bureau data. High scores went to “well-rounded places” with light traffic, healthy economies, moderate costs of living, impressive housing stocks, strong school systems and easy access to bigcity attractions.

Rounding out the top 10 list were: No. 3: Lexington Park, Md. No. 4: Lebanon, N.H.-Vt. No. 7: Mankato-North Mankato, Minn. No. 8: Oak Harbor, Wash. No. 9: Stevens Point, Wis. No. 10: Concord, N.H. Bizjournals is the online media division of American City Business Journals Inc., which publishes more than 50 business and sports newspapers and magazines across the nation.

Publication: Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Date:2008 Jul 25; Section:The Big Sky; Page Number: C1 

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State Tax Chief Says Montana Property Prices Holding
By GAIL SCHONTZLER Chronicle Staff Writer, 5.13.2008

Housing prices may be plummeting in other states, but the negative effect of turmoil in the national home and finance markets has been dampened in Montana by the strong economy, state Department of Revenue Director Dan Bucks said Monday in Bozeman.

“On the whole, Montana’s economy, Bozeman’s economy are strong, and that helps to weather the effects of national trends,” Bucks said, after spending the morning meeting with about 20 Bozeman-area real estate agents and appraisers at the GranTree Inn.

The Department of Revenue is getting ready to do a statewide reappraisal of the property values of more than 1 million homes, businesses and farms, as it does every six years. The purpose is to meet the constitutional requirement that property taxes should be fair, equalized and accurate.

Bucks was quick to say that Gov. Brian Schweitzer and lawmakers are committed to taking mitigating actions in the 2009 Legislature so that increases in market values won’t mean a huge increase in overall tax collections. “The governor is committed ... there will be no property tax increases due to reappraisal on a statewide basis,” Bucks said.

However, that doesn’t mean individuals won’t see changes in their own property values and resulting property taxes. The purpose of holding meetings like Monday’s around the state, Bucks said, is for his office to go the extra mile to find out what’s happening in local real estate markets and reflect recent trends.

To do that, the department moved ahead the date it uses to gauge property values from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year. It’s also seeking data from a variety of sources, and checking with Montana and outside experts. Notices showing new appraised values will be mailed to property owners in the spring of 2009. Realtors sounded a generally positive note, though the once red-hot local real estate market has clearly cooled off.

In 2007, the average price of a home sold in Bozeman city limits was $337,683, down $11,000, or 3 percent, from the 2006 average of $348,766. Realtors often point out that the 2007 average is still $25,000 above the 2005 average....

...“Sellers are still kind of in La-La Land,” another Realtor agreed. Asked about different neighborhoods, local sales agents said that today’s buyers are demanding more n especially the nicer finishes and additional bathrooms that new homes feature. Many older homes, particularly bi-level and tri-level homes built 30 or more years ago, aren’t as popular today....

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Billings Gazette Opinion: Montana's World Markets Growing

Landlocked Montana's 545-mile border with Canada makes our northern neighbor the most likely candidate for our top international market - and it is. What's surprising about Montana exports overall is how fast they've grown.

As Gov. Brian Schweitzer said last week: "Over the past five years, Montana has had the second-highest annual growth rate in export value in the nation. We have seen an increase in both our exports and in manufacturing employment, and Montana is one of only 22 states to see this growth."

The state's commodity exports increased by nearly 35 percent last year to a record high of $1.74 billion. Wheat was the top commodity export, with $613.4 million in sales - up nearly $203 million from 2006, according to the Montana Department of Commerce. Those sales included 107.8 million bushels of wheat exported through the West Coast, most of it destined for Japan, according to the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. Among other commodities, dried legume exports doubled to $17.6 million.

Excluding wheat, Canada is Montana's top export market, but Japan is still second, followed by Germany, Taiwan and China. Montana's noncommodity exports to Canada totaled $221.4 million in 2003 but grew to $584.7 million last year. Montana's noncommodity exports to Japan were $27.2 million in 2003 and $101.7 million in 2007. Exports to Germany increased from $7 million in 2003 to $58.9 million in 2007.

All sorts of products account for Montana export sales, including ores, vehicle parts, fuel, wood products, medical instruments, pharmaceuticals, aircraft and electrical machinery, industrial machinery and prepared cereal.

The weak dollar has made imported goods more expensive for Montanans and all Americans. The upside is the coinciding expansion of export markets because U.S. products are relatively less expensive to foreign customers.

Our state, with barely a million residents, is a small sliver of the U.S. export market. But Montana has grown remarkably, posting 20 percent to 37 percent gains over the past year with each of its top export nation markets. Those are results most any business would envy.

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