BIG SKY — Work on the Jack Creek Road Evacuation Project is underway to make it a better evacuation route for the western side of Big Sky.
The Big Sky Fire Department was awarded a $750,000 grant from Coalitions and Collaboratives Inc. The fund will create a shaded fuel break along Jack Creek Road to increase safety. A shaded fuel break is a thin section of forest intended to break up forest structure to put fire on the ground instead of up in the trees. This creates a more defensible space for the roadway.
Moonlight Basin has also given $244,000 to the project and also wildfire mitigation in the area to be deployed from 2023 and beyond. Big Sky Fire Chief Greg Megaard is very appreciative and ready to work with Moonlight on this project together.
“They’re all in, they’re great partners in this like I said, our grant is for $75,000… they matched that with a $100,000. I think Rich said earlier that they’re putting in $240,000. They think it’s that important when you look at their wildlife and fire plan that they have,” says Megaard.
With the widening of the road, it would not only be helping first responders get from one destination to another but would help the community evacuate in case of emergency.
"It helps us, the Forest Service, anybody that’s fighting a fire, to get rid of those canopy fields really close to the road, where resources can get in, but people can get out,” Megaard says,
Although some trees surrounding Jack Creek Road will be cut down, Rich Chandler of Lone Mountain Land company says this is actually helping the forest.
“By selectively removing certain timber and obtaining others… both in species and age diversity… you promote a more healthy and resilient forest,” says Chandler.
The completion of this project is expected to be in the fall. People with the Big Sky Fire Department, US Forest Services, Moonlight Basin, and Madison County are working hard to make this plan a reality.