A 77-acre slice of farmland and wildlife habitat along the north shore of Flathead Lake is gaining permanent protection by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The conservation project is the latest section along the north shore to become permanently protected, bringing the total acreage up to 426 acres. The property will be part of the North Shore Wildlife Management Area, which consists of two other parcels already owned and managed by FWP. It sits next to the 1,887-acre Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation easements held on private land by Montana Land Reliance and Flathead Land Trust.
“This project is another key piece in the efforts of the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, of which FWP is a partner, to conserve the Flathead Valley’s excellent water quality, outstanding scenic and recreational values, abundant fish and wildlife, and its farming heritage for present and future generations,” FWP Resource Specialist Kris Tempel said.
Tempel said the property is used by tens of thousands of migratory birds as an important refueling stop each spring on their long journey from wintering grounds in Mexico to their breeding grounds in Canada.
The property’s owners wanted to conserve the site and sold it to the state for roughly $489,000, well below its appraised value of $652,000. FWP purchased the property with funding from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant program.
FWP officials say the property will be managed to protect and improve natural riparian and wetland habitats. Annual crop production will continue to benefit resident and migratory waterfowl and the agency will keep improving and maintaining habitat for other wildlife, and to provide opportunities for seasonal and compatible public recreation.
FWP says the conservation project will protect ground water, surface water and wetlands on or near Flathead Lake. This will help improve or maintain the high water quality of Flathead Lake to benefit aquatic life as well as fish and wildlife habitat, according to FWP.
The parcel will also provide public opportunities for both wildlife viewing and hunting and will be managed similarly to other public lands on the north shore.
Flathead Land Trust initiated and helped facilitate this conservation project.
“This project adds an additional puzzle piece of important conserved land to our beloved north shore of Flathead Lake that will greatly benefit waterfowl, wildlife, water quality, and public access. We are very pleased to have had a role in making this happen for the Flathead community,” said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust executive director.
“These critical lands include those important to maintain our excellent water quality, healthy river function, abundant fish and wildlife, and important agricultural soils,” says Constanza von der Pahlen of the Flathead Lakers, a major partner in the Flathead River to Lake Initiative. “
All FWP properties on the north shore of Flathead Lake are available for non-motorized public recreation except during the seasonal closure from March 1 to July 15 to protect migrating and nesting birds.