Twenty years ago, long before Jolene Dugan and Roger Sortino applied for a permit to build a contentious bridge to Dockstader Island in Flathead Lake, Bigfork blacksmith Jeffrey Funk built a towering sculpture. The piece, titled “Lakescape 1: Impressions of the North Shore,” was commissioned by Kathy Naive, whose home overlooks the water. With steel and stone elements depicting calm waves and a sandy beach, it was meant to reflect the simple beauty of lakeside living.
Now, after two decades, the Lakescape’s likeness of Flathead’s north shore is taking on new meaning. Naive has donated it to a July 29 auction gala hosted by the Community Association for North Shore Conservation (CANSC), a group of concerned residents that has filed a lawsuit in Flathead County District Court against the county and its commissioners, alleging that the bridge’s 2011 permit was unlawfully issued.
The group wants to see the bridge removed and the lakeshore restored to its original state. The sculpture, which “was inspired by the exact location of the existing bridge,” according to Funk, now stands as a representation of the undisturbed shoreline for which the group is fighting.
“It’s a great embodiment of what we’re about,” Mary Jo Naive, Kathy’s daughter and a CANSC board member, said. “Our organization right now is trying to protect the lakeshore, and this piece symbolizes so incredibly the lakeshore, because it is the sand and the ripples and the rocks … it’s a great embodiment of what we’re about.”
Local artists, including painter Nancy Cawdrey, metal and glass worker Lee Proctor, and painter Brett Thuma, created many of the other lake-inspired pieces that will be auctioned at the Restore the Shore Fundraiser in Bigfork. The Lakescape, with an estimated value of $18,000, will be one of seven pieces available at a live auction. Twenty to 25 pieces will be featured in a silent auction and are expected to go between $300 and $3,000.
“Those are very pricey items, but we have some pretty significant bills today,” Dave Hadden, head of the group, said.
As required by the Lakeshore Protection Act, county officials must seek public comment on “significant” construction projects along the shoreline. In 2011, the bridge project was deemed minimal, and the public did not have an opportunity to weigh in before the permit was issued. CANSC’s lawsuit contends that the project was significant enough to have warranted public notification and review. Hadden hopes that a decision in CANSC’s favor would both nullify the permit and compel removal of the bridge.
The gala, which “honors our love of Flathead Lake and will help defray the legal costs accrued in defense of our beautiful lake,” according to CANSC’s website, will be hosted at The Venue at Montana 45 in Bigfork. It is RSVP only and space is limited. Contact CANSCflathead@gmail.com for more information.
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