Another slice of vital habitat near the north shore of Flathead Lake could gain protection as a guarded sanctuary for waterfowl, wildlife and public access.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to acquire 76.7 acres of farmland and wetlands off Montana Highway 82 roughly 4.5 miles east of Somers.
The property’s owners want to conserve the site and are offering to sell it to the state for roughly $489,000, well below its appraised value of $652,000. The project would be purchased using Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act funding.
The property sits in the middle of a large swath of property that has been protected in recent years. It borders the 160-acre North Shore State Park/Wildlife Management Area that FWP acquired in 2008 and is near the 189-acre North Shore Wildlife Management Area acquired in 2013. It also is adjacent to the 2,362-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area.
“This is adding to that mosaic,” Kris Tempel, resource specialist with FWP, said.
FWP proposes to incorporate this parcel into FWP’s wildlife management area program and it would become part of the existing North Shore Wildlife Management Area.
FWP is accepting public comment on the proposed acquisition through Dec. 5. A public presentation will be held Nov. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Somers Middle School.
Tempel said the primary purpose of the proposed acquisition is to protect and manage the land as natural riparian habitats. It would also continue annual crop production to benefit resident and migratory waterfowl and to improve and maintain habitat for other wildlife. Other benefits of this project include providing opportunities for seasonal and compatible public recreation and 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 for benefits of aquatic life and fish and wildlife habitat, according to FWP.
Wildlife managers have recorded over 229 species along the general north shore area, of which 172 are frequent visitors.
If acquisition is approved, FWP wildlife management program would cover annual property taxes and general annual property administration and maintenance costs, which are expected to be about $1,200 a year, including property taxes that are currently approximately $700 per year.