Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on a new analysis related to a contentious boat ramp on Church Slough off Lower Valley Road south of Kalispell.
Following a lawsuit in Flathead District Court, FWP was tasked with completing a supplemental Montana Environmental Policy Act environmental analysis at Church Slough.
This new assessment, open for public comment until July 4, requires FWP to analyze a new alternative that was not included in the 2010 assessment and complete a more comprehensive analysis of secondary and cumulative impacts of the proposed action.
Here’s a summary of the three proposed alternatives listed in the draft environmental assessment of the “Permit Application from Flathead County for Boat Ramp Construction on Church Slough”:
Alternative A: No Action — FWP would deny the proposed construction. No Action Alternative would leave the site in its current state, with limited public boating opportunity and difficult and unsafe pedestrian access to the water’s edge. Public users would continue to use the site in the existing condition, including trespassing onto a neighboring property to access the water. This alternative may result in a risk of lawsuits against Flathead County to replace access that existed prior to abandonment of the road easement.
Alternative B: Proposed Action — FWP would approve proposed construction with or without modifications to reduce impacts to fish and wildlife habitat. Additional mitigation activities may be identified during the review process and included in the permit to Flathead County and the record of decision.
Alternative C: Carry-in Boat Access Option — FWP would recommend a modification to Flathead County’s request to build a formal boat ramp area at the property as originally described. Instead, FWP would request the county provide a carry-in boat access, which would require boat owners to transport their boat or personal watercraft (i.e., kayak, canoe, jet ski, etc.) between the parking area and shoreline by hand or with the use of a hand trailer.
Flathead County began installing a boat ramp and other improvements to a public access point on Church Slough in 2010. A lawsuit was filed against the county and FWP in June 2010 and two years later the boat ramp was closed by court order.
Public review and comments are requested on the supplemental components including the new alternative (Alternative C) and analysis of secondary and cumulative impacts for all alternatives.
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