Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) proposes to purchase approximately 189 acres of farmland and wetlands located along the north shore of Flathead Lake about 4.5 miles east of the community of Somers. Funding for the project would be provided by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) through MFWP’s fisheries mitigation program to help offset impacts associated with the construction of Hungry Horse Dam. If acquired, BPA would retain a perpetual conservation easement on the property to ensure long-term protection of the property.
The primary purpose of the proposed land acquisition using BPA funding is to protect ground water, surface water, and wetlands on or near Flathead Lake. This will help improve or maintain the high water quality of Flathead Lake for benefits of aquatic life and fish and wildlife habitat. Other benefits of this project include protecting and managing this land to restore or improve natural riparian/wetland habitats, to continue annual crop production to benefit resident and migratory waterfowl, to improve and maintain habitat for other wildlife, and to provide opportunities for seasonal and compatible public recreation.
MFWP proposes to incorporate this parcel into MFWP’s wildlife management area program and designate this land as the North Shore Wildlife Management Area (North Shore WMA). Proposed management is designed to meet the purposes of the acquisition and be consistent with BPA’s conservation easement. The proposed Management Plan is included as part of the draft environmental assessment (EA). The Management Plan allows for restoration of riparian/ wetlands, upland buffers, and forest stands, as well as the continuation of agricultural practices that also provide food/cover for migratory and resident birds.
The public comment period for this draft EA will extend for 30 days beginning August 1, 2013. Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., August 31, 2013, and can be mailed to: North Shore WMA Acquisition; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; 490 N. Meridian Road; Kalispell, MT 59901 or sent by e-mail to: Nancy Ivy at firstname.lastname@example.org. FWP will hold a public meeting beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, at the Flathead Lake Inn and Suites (formerly the White Oak Hotel) located at the junction of Highways 93 and 82. The public meeting will begin with a 30-minute open house followed by a formal public hearing.
(Report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Cover Photo: fwp.mt.gov)