FWP to make decision on Flathead Lake purchase
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: December 21, 2015

fwpMontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) proposes to purchase approximately 76.7 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 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. The primary purpose of the proposed land acquisition is to protect and manage 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. Other benefits of this project include protecting ground water, surface water, and wetlands on or near Flathead Lake. This will help improve or maintain the high water quality of Flathead Lake to benefit aquatic life as well as fish and wildlife habitat.

FWP proposes to incorporate this parcel into FWP’s wildlife management area program, and it would become part of the existing North Shore Wildlife Management Area (North Shore WMA). The Flathead Land Trust has been instrumental in initiation of this and several projects with FWP on the north shore of Flathead Lake. The proposed Management Plan is included as part of the draft environmental assessment (EA).

The draft EA was out for a 30-day public review from November 6 through December 5, 2015, and a public hearing was held in Somers on November 24, 2015. A total of 14 written comments were received: 12 were in favor of the acquisition, one person had a management comment, and one expressed concerns about the acquisition. The comments are addressed in the decision document.

In reviewing the public comment and other relevant information, and evaluating the environmental effects, FWP recommends that the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve the proposed purchase of the North Shore WMA addition. This action will also require the approval of the State Land Board at an upcoming meeting.

The draft EA will become the final EA, and together with the decision notice will serve as the final documents for this proposal. Copies of the decision notice are available at the FWP office, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell; Montana State Library, 1515 E 6th Ave., Helena; FWP State Headquarters, 1420 E 6th Ave., Helena; the FWP website at: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/decisionNotices/pn_0779.html; and available for viewing at local libraries.