Flathead Lake project completed
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: February 11, 2016

An important conservation project protecting 77 acres along the north shore of Flathead Lake was completed today. This conservation project helps protect the fragile water quality of Flathead Lake and adds to the protection of land used by tens of thousands of migratory birds as an important refueling stop each spring on their long journey from wintering grounds in Mexico to their breeding grounds in Canada. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) purchased this property with funding from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant program in conjunction with a 25% below market sale from the seller.

The newly purchased property will be managed as part of the North Shore Wildlife Management Area which consists of two other parcels already owned and managed by FWP, bringing the total protected acreage to 426 acres. The property is adjacent to the 1,887-acre Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation easements held on private land by Montana Land Reliance and Flathead Land Trust. The property will be managed to protect and 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. The parcel will provide public opportunities for both wildlife viewing and hunting and will be managed similarly to other public lands on the north shore.

Flathead Land Trust initiated and helped facilitate this conservation project. “This project adds an additional puzzle piece of important conserved land to our beloved north shore of Flathead Lake that will greatly benefit waterfowl, wildlife, water quality, and public access. We are very pleased to have had a role in making this happen for the Flathead community,” said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust executive director.

This conservation project continues the landscape-scale, collaborative effort to conserve critical lands along the north shore of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River known as the Flathead River to Lake Initiative. Over the past 10 years, the Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners, including many private landowners dedicated to careful stewardship of this important resource, have conserved over 5,000 acres of critical lands along the lower Flathead River and north shore of Flathead Lake, adding to a network totaling over 11,000 acres of protected private and public lands.

“These critical lands include those important to maintain our excellent water quality, healthy river function, abundant fish and wildlife, and important agricultural soils,” says Constanza von der Pahlen of the Flathead Lakers, a major partner in the Flathead River to Lake Initiative. “Protection of these north shore properties will help to ensure abundant fish and wildlife species for present and future generations of Flathead Valley residents. This is something we couldn’t do without conservation minded landowners and strong public support,” says Kris Tempel, Resource Specialist with FWP.

All FWP properties on the north shore of Flathead Lake are available for non-motorized public recreation except during the seasonal closure from March 1 to July 15 to protect migrating and nesting birds.