FWP Moving Forward with Proposal to Develop Fishing Access Site on Flathead Lake
By angelamontana

Posted: September 9, 2020

Kalispell, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is moving forward with its proposal to purchase nearly 15 acres for a Fishing Access Site that would increase public access and recreation opportunities on Flathead Lake.

FWP accepted public input on the proposal for 30 days this summer as part of a draft environmental assessment of the project. Regional Supervisor Jim Williams signed the decision notice Sept. 4 to move forward with the proposal, which will go before the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission for approval.

FWP is seeking to acquire 14.89 acres of property one mile east of Dayton along the western shore of Flathead Lake. The property, owned by Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation, would be developed into Montebello Fishing Access Site and include an access road, parking area, boat launch, dock, vault latrine, signage, boundary fencing and host campsite. The site would be open for day-use only. Acquisition and development of the property by FWP would ensure future public access to this property as well as Flathead Lake.

FWP continues to pursue opportunities to increase public access on Flathead Lake, where user numbers are increasing to levels above the capacity of existing FWP sites. The Montebello Fishing Access Site proposal is part of a larger Flathead Lake access package. This package also includes the proposed acquisition of 106 acres of shoreline owned by the Sliter family near Somers for the development of a new State Park. Both would enhance public access and recreation opportunities on popular Flathead Lake.

Currently, 89 percent of the shoreline of Flathead Lake, excluding islands, is in private ownership. Any additional public access opportunity on the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River would be very popular. This site would help ease pressure on other busy boat launches on Flathead Lake. The proximity of the proposed site to Wild Horse Island also makes it a desirable launching point. Flathead Lake provides a popular recreational fishery, and in 2017 the fishery supported approximately 42,195 angler days.

Flathead Lake is also very popular with recreational (non-angling) boaters, including motorized and non-motorized watercraft. Shore-based activities such as picnicking, swimming, photography and wildlife viewing are also very popular along the shoreline. Public access to the lake and shoreline is in high demand. Recreational activity on Flathead Lake generates a considerable amount of economic activity in nearby communities. According to Jan Stoddard of the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, Flathead Lake is one of Montana’s most important water recreation assets.

To read the decision notice, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/decisionNotices/.