Lithgow, Other Donors Gather Support for Flathead Lake Biological Station

By Beacon Staff

In a vital show of support for maintaining Flathead Lake’s pristine identity, nearly 540 individuals, families and organizations banded together to raise over $1 million for the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station.

The list of donors included prominent lakeshore homeowners like actor John Lithgow, former NBA coach Phil Jackson and wildlife advocate Jack Hanna, according to the station.

“At a time of deep concern for the Earth’s fragile environment, the Flathead Lake Biological Station continues to do a magnificent job monitoring the Flathead’s complex water system,” stated Lithgow, a Flathead Lake homeowner and longtime supporter of the biological station. “All of us who treasure this beautiful lake owe the station a great and ongoing debt of gratitude.”

The donations exceeded the biological station’s $1 million goal of matching a lake monitoring challenge grant by the end of 2014. Three years ago, FLBS began a campaign to raise $1 million endowment to match a pledge by an anonymous donor for its Flathead Lake Research and Monitoring Program. As of this week, there were 626 gifts from 537 different entities, according to the station.

“This incredible generosity will help protect the quality of Flathead Lake’s water for years to come,” said FLBS Director Jack Stanford. “Our team of faculty, staff and students gives a heartfelt thanks to the community and everyone who donated and made this possible.”

FLBS scientists specialize in ecological research and education with an emphasis on fresh water, particularly Flathead Lake and its watershed. FLBS research and monitoring provide a continuous record of lake conditions needed to understand and protect the lake and reveal threats before they become problems.

The research program depends almost entirely upon grants and gifts. Thus, faculty and staff at FLBS are forging ahead on the next set of priorities for community support. Current projects in need of funding include LakeNET, the environmental sensor network around Flathead Lake, which provides real-time weather and water data to Flathead Lake residents and recreationists; the development and application of an environmental DNA test for aquatic invasive species; and continued ecological discovery at FLBS’s long-term floodplain research site, the Nyack floodplain on the Middle Fork Flathead River.