FWP Announces State Park Improvements

Agency approves plans to expand archery ranges at Lone Pine, Big Arm; develop amenities at new Somers Beach park

By Micah Drew
Arrows poke out from a target at the archery range at Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell on Nov. 21, 2021. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced last week it is moving forward with plans to develop a new archery range at the Big Arm Unit of Flathead Lake State Park near Polson and purchase 9.3 acres of property next to Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell to add capacity to the existing archery range.

The new archery range would be located on a portion of Big Arm State Park on the west side of U.S. Highway 93, opposite the park’s main entrance. The parcel of land is currently used for dispersed hiking. 

The range would include a gravel parking lot, entry kiosk, vault toilet and lockable storage for archery lessons and practice. A trail connecting to 12 shooting stations will be developed in the project area and will include at least one elevated shooting platform. 

The range will serve those in the Polson and Lake County communities, offering a site to hone shooting skills without having to drive to Kalispell. 

At Lone Pine, park manager Brian Schwartz said the range averages around 2,000 people a year up from about 500 a decade ago, with a 33% increase in just the last few years based on self-registration. 

According to FWP, one big component to the surge in usage is the increase in bow classes offered in local schools. Eighteen schools in Northwest Montana participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), with five programs joining in the last two years. The NASP program can be taught indoors at a school’s gymnasium, or outdoors on fields or at ranges like Lone Pine’s. 

The additional property will allow the park to add a quarter-mile of trail and six additional targets, effectively doubling the size of the range. 

Both projects will utilize grant funding from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that is aimed at increasing public shooting sport opportunities. 

FWP also announced plans to develop basic interim visitor amenities to address safety and sanitation needs at the new Somers Beach State Park on the north shore of Flathead Lake.

While the agency is still working on a long-term vision and development plan for the park that will include extensive public involvement and is expected to take several months, FWP is starting with an interim plan to address immediate needs for public safety, sanitation, and parking

Plans include developing an access road and parking area that can accommodate 50-75 vehicles, and placing portable toilets near the parking lot. Signage and boundary markings will be added to guide visitor use. There will also be pedestrian trails developed to allow visitor access from the parking lot to other areas of the state park. The trail development will be done as lightly as possible while the formalized park plan is established.

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