Learn about our community initiatives.

West Fork Gallatin River and Little Coyote Pond Restoration Project

The Restoration Project is environmentally friendly and will be a community recreational facility that’s currently being constructed next to Big Sky’s Meadow Village. The West Fork Gallatin River is being separated from Little Coyote Pond with an earthen berm, restoring the stream channel to its natural flow, enhancing the water filtration, improving fish passage and spawning, and dredging the remaining portion of Little Coyote Pond to create a community recreation area. The pond area will be free to the public for anyone to use in perpetuity! It will include fishing docks, beaches, picnic areas, dog-friendly specific areas, and kayaking, as well as a boardwalk, trail, and an ADA accessible ramp. In a recreational corridor, the Restoration Project is a great environmentally friendly facility for the use of the community and visitors! Your donation, however, big or small, is needed to complete the project.

West Fork and Little Coyote Pond Restoration Project Design

Construction for the Restoration Project began September 2023 and finished at the beginning of February 2024. This first stage of construction was arguably the most important stage in ensuring that this Pond is sustainable (that it won’t silt back in) for the community’s long-term use and the environment. A local construction company, Pond and Stream Consulting, drained the water from Little Coyote Pond and constructed a new stream bed to enhance natural flow, which has separated Little Coyote Pond from the West Fork of the Gallatin River. They then dredged the soils from the Pond and refilled it with water, and once the spring weather comes in they will begin planting willows along the shoreline and constructing the recreation area. Follow this process as we post photos and videos on the BBS website.

This is where you come in! We are hoping to build traction within Big Sky to get the funding to complete the community Restoration Project. The Restoration Project will provide a family friendly, environmentally sustainable, recreational facility for all to enjoy.

We are 77% to our fundraising goal of $1,770,000


$407,239 is still needed to complete the Restoration Project!

Pond Project Timeline

Phase 1 - Late September

In late September, Pond & Stream Consulting Services removed the natural dam under the Little Coyote bridge and drained the pond to dewater the work site.

Phase 2 - Late September/Early October

Upon excavating a section of the river channel, a thick, Pond & Stream Consulting discovered an eight-foot layer of soft sediment. A cobble ramp was constructed for heavy equipment to haul off the material that is inhibiting access and movement around the site.

Phase 3 - Mid to Late October

Willow harvesting for the river bank construction occurred during the week of October 16th with the help of community volunteers and Gallatin River Task Force. As of October 20th, the team successfully harvested 5,000 willows with a goal of 9,000 total for the project.

Phase 4 - November

The construction of the river channel took place from mid-October through the end of November. This entailed forming the base of the river channel with a cobble layer, constructing a berm with a concrete inlet structure on one end of the berm, and creating an outlet channel on the other end. Along the berm, harvested willows were planted to stabilize the river bank, which will eventually grow into a fully functioning wetland and riparian area.

Phase 5 - Late November/December

In this phase, the pond was dredged and material hauled to another location once the river bank was completed.

Phase 6 - January to Early February

Pond & Stream Consulting began laying out the boulders for the northern retaining wall, and completed the northern beach. Dredging of the pond was completed. Construction for the first phase of the Restoration Project was completed in early February of 2024!

Phase 7 - Spring 2024

Amenities, including a perimeter trail, ADA ramp, beaches, picnic tables, benches, restrooms, a rock terrace, a parking lot, and fishing docks will be installed by summer 2024. This is where Big Sky community contributions can make a huge impact!

What will the Restoration Project do for the environment?

Improve water quality in the West Fork of the Gallatin River:

Montana is known for its wild rivers and natural beauty. The Restoration Project will help to improve water quality and enhance the natural flow in the West Fork and Gallatin Rivers, which works toward the common goal of preserving the waterways in and around Big Sky.

Enhance and protect the fisheries of the West Fork River:

Summer heat makes it more difficult for fish to survive in Montana rivers. The Restoration Project will enhance water flow in the West Fork River, thereby improving fish habitat, spawning, and passage upriver. It will also help to maintain the cooler water temperatures that are optimal for fish by allowing water to flow more freely downstream in the river channel.

Restore and enhance a community recreational facility in a recreation corridor:

Environmental conservation is about creating public access to natural spaces to foster the understanding and appreciation of the outdoors. This Recreational Facility is next to the community park, which connect to a larger network of trails on US National Forest Lands where the public can access, engage with, and appreciate the beautiful public land in and around Big Sky.

What will the Restoration Project do for you?

Add to and enhance existing trail systems:

The Pond will have a perimeter trail that provides access to both beaches at the Recreational Facility. It will also enhance access to the Big Sky Community Park as well as existing trail segments in Meadow Village and beyond, for more options to recreate in Big Sky!

Improve recreational fishing in Big Sky and beyond:

Two fishing docks will be available for public use on Little Coyote Pond. This access, combined with the Restoration Project’s focus to improve fish passage and spawning, will make your fishing experience in Big Sky all the better.

Offer fun and accessible recreation options for everyone:

The Recreation Facility will include, in addition to the fishing docks and a perimeter trail: two beaches, kayak and paddleboard rentals, an ADA ramp for accessibility, and a picnic area for relaxing and spending time with your family and friends during the beautiful Montana summers. 

The Community Recreation Facility is centrally located in Big Sky:

Little Coyote Pond is centrally located, with easy access to and from a number of restaurants and shops, the BSCO Community Park, workforce housing, and US Forest Service Land. It is a quick walk on the Meadow Village trail from Big Sky’s town center, and will provide a nice spot to stop and relax after a day of recreating or exploring the town.

Secures the community water rights:

The Pond serves as a reservoir for Big Sky County Water & Sewer District to monitor, utilize, and maintain their water rights. These rights are critical for the irrigation of Big Sky’s Meadow Village golf course, as well as the community’s water supply. For as long as the Water & Sewer District is able to maintain these rights, you and your family can spend countless summer days playing rounds of golf while sipping on cool, refreshing glasses of water.

Free for everyone, forever!

The Community Recreation Facility is free for everyone to use in perpetuity! For as long as you are in Big Sky, you can rely on having a sanctuary right in the middle of Big Sky to spend quality time with friends, read a book on the beach, enjoy a meal from a local restaurant, or take your pup on a walk around local trails!

Alex Fox from Pond & Stream Consulting explains the last stages of the winter construction as the crew refills Little Coyote Pond. Next step: the amenities!

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Help Montana stay wild and beautiful.


The BSOA has been working on a Best Practices Guidebook for the Big Sky area, which will function as a free local’s guide to sustainable stewardship in Big Sky. Whether you have been in Big Sky since the 1970’s or just moved to the area, we hope this guidebook on sustainability inspires your engagement and involvement as a community stakeholder. The Best Practices Guidebook is an invitation to participate in the preservation of our way of life in Southwest Montana. It will include information on responsible property ownership, natural disaster resilience for those such as wildfires and drought, and ecosystem stewardship. The final draft was recently approved by the BSOA Board, a graphic designer has been hired to help publish the Guidebook. Your financial contribution is important in order to continue meaningful and engaging stewardship!

Benefit Big Sky is seeking Big Sky community organizations with an interest or focus in sustainability and stewardship. If your organization is interested in sponsoring the Best Practices Guidebook, check out our sponsorship details here.

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Keep our drivers and families safe as traffic increases due to growth in the area.

Traffic Calming

The residential roads around Big Sky have been greatly impacted due to the significant growth that has occurred over the last several years. Roads used by our community and visitors to access recreation areas include Little Coyote Road, Andesite Road, and Beehive Basin Road. With growth comes a higher volume of traffic on our residential roads. There are various methods to calm traffic and enhance safety, including the construction of speed tables, installation of driver feedback signs, collection of traffic data, and the increase of safety signage.

Safety of our community members is top priority, and BSOA is focusing on implementing speed tables on Little Coyote Road for this purpose. Construction of the proposed speed tables has been put out to bid, and the BSOA is applying for grants to implement traffic safety measure. BBS is participating in a community fundraising effort for this project– advocating for and maintaining the safety of Big Sky residents and visitors alike is beneficial for everyone in Big Sky! Once funding has been secured for the Little Coyote speed tables, it paves the road for other residential areas to go through the same process. Please consider donating to implement speed tables on Little Coyote Road as soon as the weather permits!

Recently, BSOA purchased a new driver feedback sign that was installed on Andesite Road. This sign will urge drivers to slow down on the steeper roads of the residential neighborhood. It will also measure volume, average speed, and number of speed violations, and BSOA will be able to use this data to figure out how traffic can be mitigated and calmed on Andesite Road.