Nonprofits to Host Flow to Snow Party in Columbia Falls

Local river conservation and avalanche safety organizations have partnered to bring a river and winter sports gear swap, live music and more at Marantette Park on Saturday, Sept. 23

By Maggie Dresser
A Montana Kayak Academy class on the Flathead River in the summer of 2022. Photo courtesy of David Meyers

In celebration of National Public Lands Day, Flathead Valley nonprofits promoting conservation and outdoor education and safety are partnering to host a river and winter sports gear swap along with a community-wide party in Columbia Falls.

The Flow to Snow Party at Marantette Park in Columbia Falls on Saturday, Sept. 23 will feature a gear swap, live music by Radio Ranch, awards for the Cedar Creek Marathon, food trucks, including Wagyu Wagon and Indah Sushi, and libations from Flathead Lake Brewing Company. There will also be a mini-boat tournament, which will kick off at 4 p.m. and costs $25 to enter.

In a collaboration between the Flathead Rivers Alliance, Montana Kayak Academy, Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center and Logan Health, the party is designed to provide a toast to the float season and to kick off the snow season. Gateway to Glacier Trails and the Flathead National Forest will also have pop-up information booths.

Awards for the Cedar Creek Marathon will also be distributed at the park at 3 p.m., followed by music from Radio Ranch and food trucks including Wagyu Wagon and Indah Sushi.

A level one avalanche course at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 31, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The used gear sale will begin at 2 p.m. and items can be sold person-to-person or in a silent auction. Gear must be in good condition and there will also be a free pile. To sell gear, bring donations to Marantette Park at 8 a.m. on Saturday, make arrangements in advance by emailing Dave Meyers at [email protected], or show up to the swap to personally sell gear. To donate gear, drop off items at the park at 9 a.m.

To volunteer, sign up here.

The Flathead Rivers Alliance was formed in 2019 to help conserve the three forks of the Flathead River and as a response to the anticipated release of the Comprehensive River Management Plan. The nonprofit relies on the leadership of its single staff member and executive director Sheena Pate and organizes volunteer programs while educating the public about river conservation and etiquette on the Wild and Scenic River System.

After launching a decade ago, the Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center (FOFAC), the Flathead Avalanche Center’s nonprofit partner, raises funds along with awareness about snow safety. The organization has expanded its reach in recent years to keep up with the growing demand for backcountry recreation.

In the past five years the Flathead Avalanche Center has installed three weather stations in the Flathead, Whitefish and Swan mountain ranges through its partnership with FOFAC and the nonprofit has expanded education programming and fundraising events.

Since launching in 2016, the Montana Kayak Academy started offering free kayaking courses tailored to kids and last year, local paddler and instructor Dave Meyers was hired as the organization’s first executive director. The program has since expanded to offer adult courses with the goal to expand the paddling community in the Flathead Valley and promote safety and river conservation.

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