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Know the West

Big Sky above, private land below


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

J.C. Knaub has lived in Big Sky since the ski mountain opened in 1973. He worked as a ski patrolman, got fired, sued for wrongful discharge, and in 1984 a jury ordered the resort to pay him more than a quarter million dollars. Knaub, who keeps running into the very people he sued, has been working to establish neighborhood trails and parks.

J.C. Knaub: "There's no park here now. If someone comes into Big Sky and wants to throw a Frisbee around, there is no place for that. For a softball field, someone put up a backstop on the old (golf) driving range, but all the neighbors complained. They didn't want children's softball out there.

"Or we play softball on an old pasture, which is rough. We had a day of games there last year, a benefit to raise money for the school, and we had guys falling down in holes. One guy was running to catch a fly ball, and he fell into an irrigation ditch, completely out of sight. He got up and made the catch and we named him MVP (most valuable player). (A different set of) neighbors complained about those games ...

"It's total "not-in-my-backyard." It's nuts. We need a park with some nice bushy spruce trees ... I helped build trails, worked on trails for years and the trails got torn up or abandoned. The Ousel Falls trail got sold (to a developer), the Crail Creek trailhead got subdivided, the Middle Fork trail (connecting the two halves of Big Sky, the Mountain Village and the Meadow Village) was made unusable to the public (when a timber company sold the land to a developer) ...

"We have a petition 228 people have signed, supporting parks. People get hooted at, they won't be on the committee because they get ostracized. The attacks get personal ... We've been battling about these issues for 24 years."

This story package includes these other sidebar articles:

- Chet Huntley's legacy includes suppression of a free press

- How Huntley sold Big Sky to Montana

- Touring the future on Insta-Teller Road

- Armies of skiers are coming to Yellowstone