The Making it in Big Sky series is sponsored by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and written by the Explore Big Sky staff.  


Kevin Germain has been an integral part of Moonlight Basin’s development journey, overseeing its master planning and spearheading innovative sustainability initiatives for 20+ years. His deep involvement in the community, from serving on the Big Sky Resort Area District tax board, to helping found key organizations like Bear Smart Big Sky, reflects his commitment to making a more inclusive and livable place for all. As a passionate advocate for environmental conservation and thoughtful development, Germain’s vision continues to shape the future of Big Sky. 

This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: For those who don’t know you, could you give us a brief background of your involvement in the Big Sky community? 

Kevin Germain: You bet. I’ve got a long history in Big Sky, not as long as some, but longer than most. I started working as a consultant for Lee Poole in 2000 and started as an employee for Moonlight Basin in 2003. I’ve been working in the area for quite a long time and, early on, got very involved in community issues. As I think most people realize, Big Sky is run by a series of volunteer boards, and if you want to effect change, you’ve just got to jump in and get involved. 

I’ve tried my best to do that as part of my career here in Big Sky. I’ve been on the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. I was one of the founding members of Bear Smart Big Sky, which now has transitioned and manifested into so much more. As part of the chamber, I helped found the Big Sky Community Housing Trust, which is certainly one of the things I’m most proud of. When I was on the chamber, we got really active on lobbying in Helena to try to get the Penny for Housing passed, which morphed into the Penny for Infrastructure, the 1% for infrastructure. … [That’s] been implemented since 2021. We’ve been able to build a brand new wastewater treatment plant. I think the thing that I’m most proud about with that deal is the 600 SFEs that we negotiated with Water and Sewer District to be dedicated to workforce housing.

If you look at a lot of the initiatives that I’ve been really involved in over the years, it’s really focused on how to make Big Sky a livable, inclusive community. It’s not lost on me that my story can’t be repeated today. It’s sad that, you know, somebody can’t start a career, or can’t easily start a career here in Big Sky and raise their family here. It just so happened the timing was lucky for me. Now the cost of housing and childcare and everything has just gotten so out of reach that the community needs to help so people can have a future here and raise their kids here in Big Sky.

It’s such a nice, small community. If you get involved, you can actually look back and see your fingerprint on things, and it’s nice to be able to affect change. 

Explore Big Sky: You’re running in this coming special Big Sky election. Why is it important for local voters to cast their ballot, and why was it important for you to continue serving your community through the Big Sky Resort Tax Board? 

KG: I think it’s easy for voters to get apathetic and think that their vote doesn’t matter, and what’s really special about our community … is that your vote really does matter. I’ve seen resort tax board elections come down to one vote, literally. There was a coin toss years ago to decide who got the seat. So people’s votes really do matter. It’s just important to be involved, and I think one of the most fundamental ways to be involved is to vote.

It’s a demanding role, but there’s so many things that we put in the works years ago that are just now getting momentum that I feel like I have to have one more term to get them on a solid trajectory. Those initiatives really have to do with the Big Sky roadmap that we unveiled about six months ago. Looking at how we can amend and remedy some of our taxing districts so that we’re able to keep more of our property taxes here in Big Sky for the benefit of our constituents and our residents. This ultimately creates more resort tax available for initiatives such as workforce housing, daycare and transportation. Tying this back to what I was talking about earlier, when I talk about if I looked at everything that I’ve really been passionate about and worked on over the last decade and a half, it’s how to make Big Sky more livable and inclusive.

EBS: Could you also share a little bit about your journey in resort development and how you initially became involved in that industry? 

It was not a straightforward path. After graduation from MSU, I did not choose to get into resort development. By education, I was a civil engineer and a hydrologist. I worked doing stream and river work initially. Lee Poole had hired me to work on his ranch over in Ennis in 2000, and then he said, “I’ve got this little project called Moonlight Basin.” I’d never heard of Moonlight Basin. I believe it was in later 2000, I came up. I was working for a company called Land and Water Consulting at the time. Moonlight was planning out a ski area, and I helped them with their environmental permitting. Initially, I was a consultant, and then in 2003 Lee and his partners Joe and Keith offered me a full-time position to come work for Moonlight. Early on, I was in charge of environmental compliance and environmental permitting [and] … I organically evolved into my current role, which is focused on planning and development.

EBS: Could you touch on some of the interesting or innovative projects you’ve spearheaded in resort development? 

KG: When I started as an employee in 2003, Moonlight did not have a master plan. That was one of the first things I was able to spearhead was the master planning process for Moonlight Basin. At the time it was very innovative. Today, I think it’s kind of fundamental, but we utilized constraints-based land planning. So before we looked at where a lot line was or a road was, we looked at what were all the constraints. What are the critical aspects that we should protect? Where are the white bark pines? Where are the wetlands? Where are the wildlife corridors? Where are the unstable slopes? What came to the surface were these amoebas that are least sensitive to development.

That’s probably what I’m most proud of, because that master plan still exists today.

I was part of the first LEED-certified neighborhood in Moonlight with Silvertip. That legacy continues today as we work on the One and Only project, which will be a LEED-certified campus. I’m so proud that, the first One and Only in the United States is going to be here in Big Sky, and specifically at Moonlight Basin.

EBS: Could you talk a little bit more about the importance of continued sustainable development at Moonlight and Big Sky into the future? 

KG: If you look at the map view of Moonlight … it’s a very important geographic piece of property because it bifurcates two areas of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area. When Moonlight was purchased in 92’, the original developers Lee, Joe and Keith, their mission statement was to protect 80% of that 25,000 acre purchase. They wanted to do that because of its proximity between the two wilderness areas.

Early on, they sold off 17,000 acres to conservation buyers that put conservation easements on about 15,500 of those acres. When CrossHarbor purchased Moonlight in 2013, they purchased 8,000 acres [and] we were able to place an additional 2,600 acres under conservation easement in 2019. There’s just this long conservation story that Moonlight was founded on that continues under CrossHarbor’s stewardship today. It’s a big conservation story, and I like being part of it. 

EBS: How do you envision the future of the Big Sky community in the coming years? 

KG: I am very bullish and optimistic for the future of Big Sky and it is a very exciting time to live here. I have not seen a time period before this that the community of Big Sky has been closer together. When I look at some of the initiatives that are going on, people are getting very united around the wellness district, school district, water and sewer, around traffic and transportation, and around the housing trust to me, I’m really optimistic. People are really working together to solve the common issues.

I think most of the Big Sky residents understand that housing is our biggest issue and that we’ll never be a community if all we are all second homes. We need our workforce living here and that starts with housing. That includes daycare, that includes traffic, transportation.

I think it’s a very exciting time, and I think we really are coming together and we’re going to solve some things that most mature resort communities no longer have that ability to solve. It’s too late for some of the Jackson Holes or the Vails and the Aspens. We still have that opportunity here in Big Sky.

EBS: Do you have any advice for anyone who’s aspiring to pursue roles in community leadership in Big Sky?

KG: My advice is to get involved. It’s neat to see that you can really affect change in this community.

EBS: Outside of your professional life, what are some of your hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your free time? 

KG: What brought me to Montana 30 years ago was the outdoors, and that’s still my passion. I’m a very avid bow hunter. It’s not so much the quest of the animals so much as just being out in nature. I moved here 30-plus years ago to fly fish [and that’s] still one of my passions. In the last couple of years, I’ve really gotten into backcountry skiing.

[The outdoors] is what brought me to Montana, and it’s what keeps me here today is this just amazing place that we’re fortunate enough to call home.