Kalispell, MT — Columbia Falls is home to a new family fishing pond, and the community is invited to celebrate the grand opening and dedication at River’s Edge Park.
The event is Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 4-7 p.m. Kids fishing gear will be provided on a limited basis during the event, which coincides with National Go Fishing Day. Food will be served during the celebration and youth raffle prizes will be awarded.
The new pond was developed thanks to a community-wide collaboration focused on providing family fishing opportunities at the city park.
Anglers are asked to wait until the grand opening on June 18 before fishing at the site.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has committed to stocking the pond with westslope cutthroat trout, the state fish. Following the dedication, all anglers will be welcome to fish at the pond and fishing license requirements will apply. Anglers 15 and older are required to catch and release all trout, while anglers 14 and younger can keep one trout per day.
Columbia Falls City Manager Susan Nicosia said that this project could not have been completed without the significant support and donations from Schellinger Construction, Hamilton Excavating and JD Thinning.
She continued, “The City is extremely grateful to Fish, Wildlife and Parks for their initial pursuit of a fishing pond in the Columbia Falls community and the partnership with the Flathead Land Trust for coordinating and funding the project. The fishing pond is a great asset to River’s Edge Park.”
The city will hold a River’s Edge Park Development Plan Public Informational Work Session on June 20, from 4-7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting will be an open-house format for residents to learn about the park and pond alternatives. City officials will provide a formal presentation of the results from a recent survey and a project update at 6 p.m.
Crews formally broke ground on the pond in October of 2018.
The City of Columbia Falls and the Flathead Land Trust received a $100,000 grant in 2017 from the LOR Foundation to work collaboratively to enhance livability and build upon the strengths that make Columbia Falls unique. The goal of the grant was to help the community develop a project that increases access to recreation, protects clean water, and promotes the quality of life in Columbia Falls.
The city’s largest park, River’s Edge spans more than 27 acres near the Flathead River. The new pond provides a youth-friendly venue where families can go fishing close to town. The site will also support the FWP Hooked on Fishing program, which teaches aquatic education to students and includes field trips to local sites.
“We’re so excited to be working with many generous partners to open the new Columbia Falls Community Pond for fishing this summer. As the Flathead’s local land trust, we see the pond as a great way to connect kids and their families to the outdoors through fishing and provide opportunities to learn about native fish and our environment,” said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust executive director.
FWP committed to helping fund part of the project through the Bill Kamps Memorial Fund. William “Bill” Kamps enjoyed sharing his knowledge and love of the outdoors with the community, especially kids. Kamps passed away in 2011 and through his estate he created a fund to benefit FWP’s Region 1 Hooked on Fishing program.
The City of Columbia Falls has also received a Community Pond Grant through FWP to support additional amenities at the site.
“Community fishing ponds are great places for anglers to enjoy some time on the water and for new anglers to hone their skills and learn about our aquatic resources. We’re excited to add the River’s Edge pond to our community ponds program,” said Kenneth Breidinger, FWP Region 1 area fisheries biologist.
The City of Columbia Falls has coordinated the project, led by City Manager Susan Nicosia and Public Works Director Tyler Bradshaw.
Schellinger Construction donated the excavator and operator hours for developing the pond.
Hamilton Excavating donated time to help haul from the project site and Judy Hamilton also donated her time as truck boss, ensuring a smooth operation.
Sands Surveying donated services, administration of permits and other expertise.
Applied Water Consulting donated expertise and services to obtain several permits.
JD Thinning donated services to clean up the streets during the hauling process.