By Emily Lessard
Fresh air, uninterrupted mountain views, pristine wilderness, endless ski terrain and closeness with nature are a few of the many reasons why people love to call Big Sky home. From the Gallatin River to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and all the wild spaces in between, Big Sky is filled with outdoor recreation opportunities and unparalleled scenery. It’s a place for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone with an appreciation for fresh air. As stewards of the Last Best Place, residents of Big Sky put a high value on protecting the natural resources and landscape that come with it.
The area businesses are no different in their eagerness to preserve Big Sky’s beauty and wellbeing for future generations to inherit. The value of Big Sky’s natural resources is important for tourism and vitality of the community.
With the values of Big Sky and Gallatin Valley residents at the forefront, First Security Bank is introducing a company-wide program with a community-minded incentive that encourages account holders to switch to paperless banking. Opting into paperless banking reduces the amount of paper used and is an easy way to reduce paper usage for anyone who does not require a monthly statement. Since account statements can be accessed easily through online banking, many people are moving away from opening their statements as they come in the mail.
“This is a way we can do some good and cut back on the paper waste,” said Tyler Wheeler, director of marketing at First Security Bank.
Although paperless banking has been an available option for account holders for a long time, and all customers are required to either receive a printed or digital version of their statement, First Security Bank is eager to boost the switch to digital banking and encourage the mindful use of paper. With a high consideration given to local values, the bank has decided to plant a tree for every conversion to paperless banking. Giving back to the natural environment is important to First Security Bank, recognizing that if it matters to their community it matters to them. Not only will account holders be able to minimize their paper usage, they will now be planting a tree for the benefit of the environment.
To assure the planting is completed effectively, First Security Bank has partnered with the National Forest Foundation to oversee the tree planting operations and selection of areas in need of revegetation. The National Forest Foundation is headquartered in Missoula, Montana, and is committed to encouraging Americans to be actively engaged in advocating for the wellbeing of our national forests and their public enjoyment. With the help of individuals, corporations and small businesses such as First Security Bank, the Forest Foundation is working diligently towards restoring valuable habitat for wildlife, offsetting the harmful effects of climate change and improving water quality and soil aggregate stability through their reforestation efforts.
As First Security Bank account holders make the switch to digital banking, native trees will be planted in National Forests in dire need of reforestation. The National Forest Foundation has already planted trees on the east and west coasts, as well as in many national forest areas in-between. The National Forest Foundation has even completed restoration projects close to Big Sky. One nearby project included planting 51,651 resilient whitebark pine in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in 2019. This was a vital wildlife habitat restoration project that followed the Monument Fire, which burned over 6,000 acres of forest in 2018. Another successful planting project near Big Sky took place in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest where almost 100,000 seedlings were planted to help restore the serious destruction left behind by the Winslow Fire in 2012.
To help assure successful reforestation projects, the National Forest Foundation works closely with the U.S. Forest Service to plant native trees in locations that have been damaged by natural disturbances such as wildfires, insect kill and harmful tree diseases. The planting locations, which are carefully selected by Forest Service professionals, are identified as areas that would not only benefit from new trees, but also where those trees are deemed to experience successful growth.
The National Forest Foundation is working towards a goal of planting 50 million trees in order to reforest national Forests all over the country. To date, the foundation has planted more than 17 million trees in national forest areas and First Security Bank is proud to join in on this campaign as their account holders make the switch to paperless banking. Currently, 32 percent of First Security Bank account holders bank digitally and they hope to see an 8 percent increase with the introduction of this new program.
“It’s a worthy cause especially with the fires we had in Bozeman,” Wheeler said, after witnessing the destruction of Big Sky’s neighboring Bridger Mountains in the Bridger Foothills Fire in Spetember.
Being positioned on the edge of the Gallatin Custer National Forest and Lee Metcalf Wilderness, contributing to the wellbeing of public lands is a deep matter of importance to First Security Bank.
The switch to paperless banking does more good for the environment than ever with First Security Bank’s new program and it’s easy to participate. Account holders can effortlessly elect to receive digital statements through the user-friendly online banking portal. After making the switch to digital banking, account holders can access posted statements online through the online banking portal. Viewing and printing statements is easy to do whenever necessary and an email notification will be sent with the arrival of each new statement. All of the same important account information is available without the excess paper in your mailbox.
As an active member of the community, First Security Bank is eager to participate in local events and activities while keeping the benefit of Big Sky and Gallatin Valley residents in mind. In addition to helping to plant new trees, First Security Bank is regularly seen taking part in community events and supporting local organizations, which, according to Wheeler, is what sets a small local bank apart from big federal banks. As he puts it, “A bank is only going to be as strong as the community that it serves.”
On the frontline during many community events, First Security Bank is eager to be an involved business positively contributing to the wellbeing of Big Sky. Throughout the year, the bank offers sponsorship and donations to many of Big Sky’s events including the Friday Afternoon Club, Big Sky PBR, the Art Council’s Music in the Mountains series and the Big Sky Farmers Market. The staff can even be seen actively participating in events like the Annual Christmas Stroll by passing out goodies and spreading holiday cheer!
In Big Sky, the deep powder in the winter brings a long and prosperous ski season attracting visitors from all over the world. When the snowpack melts from the peaks in the springtime, Big Sky transforms into a destination for whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River, warm weather fly fishing, hiking and world class mountain biking. The protection of the area’s natural resources is vital to maintaining the fabric of Big Sky and the outdoor lifestyle here.
First Security Bank is committed to helping Big Sky prosper economically, socially and environmentally. By planting a tree for every switch to paperless banking, First Security Bank is giving back to the natural landscapes that Big Sky and Gallatin Valley residents value so passionately.