News & Features

Flathead Land Trust Auctioning Hand-Painted Paddles for Conservation

Online auction for eight original paddles painted by local artists goes until June 21

The Flathead Land Trust is auctioning off eight hand-painted paddles this spring in an effort to raise $50,000 to permanently protect 155 acres of farmland in Lower Valley along the Flathead River.

Eight local artists painted the paddles and the auction is taking place online until June 21, according to Flathead Land Trust Executive Director Paul Travis.

“It’s a cool and unique project,” Travis said.

Artists Nancy Cawdrey, Colt Idol, Nick Oberling, James Corwin, Kenneth Yarus, Susan Guthrie, Lonnie Collinsworth and Joe Bottomly all donated their time and efforts for the project. The paddles depict scenes from the Flathead Valley that the land trust is working to protect.

“Each paddle is unique and beautiful, depicting scenes of our amazing Flathead River system as well as fish and wildlife of northwest Montana,” Travis said. “We can’t thank the artists enough for showing their support for conservation along the Flathead River, and we look forward to offering everyone the chance to win one of these exceptional pieces of local art.”

During the auction — which takes place at — the pieces of art will be on display at three different Park Side Credit Union locations in Whitefish, Kalispell and Bigfork. High bidders will be announced on June 21 at the Summer Solstice Party at the Hormuth’s Rivers End Ranch along Flathead Lake hosted by the Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead Lakers.

The Flathead Land Trust dates back to the mid-1980s and has played a critical role in the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, a partnership between non-profit, local, state and federal stakeholders to protect land within the 100-year floodplain from Columbia Falls to the lake. Since the beginning of the effort, the land trust and its partners have protected 5,750 acres through easements and other means. That figure is combined with 5,900 acres that is already protected along the river for a total of 11,685 acres protected in the River to Lake Initiative Area.

The easement the trust purchases protects lands from development and preserves it for its traditional uses, including farming.

Travis said the group has raised half of the funds they need to secure the 155 acres in Lower Valley and it needs an additional $50,000 by September.

“This land is a key puzzle piece in the entire project,” Travis said of the floodplain along the river.

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