The Missoulian, February 11, 2016
SOMERS – Another 77 acres along the north shore of Flathead Lake were protected earlier this week.
The addition brings the total acreage owned and managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on the north shore to 426. The property is adjacent to the 1,887-acre North Shore Wildlife Management Area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There are also conservation easements on private land on the north shore held by the Montana Land Reliance and the Flathead Land Trust.
“This conservation project helps protect the fragile water quality of Flathead Lake and adds to the protection of land 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,” FWP said.
The state purchased the property, for $489,000, with funding from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant program. The seller also reduced the price by 25 percent from its market value, according to FWP.
“This project adds an additional puzzle piece of important conserved land to our beloved north shore … that will greatly benefit waterfowl, wildlife, water quality and public access,” said Flathead Land Trust Executive Director Paul Travis.
The trust helped facilitate the addition.
The property “will be managed to protect and improve natural riparian-wetland habitats, to continue annual crop production to benefit resident and migratory waterfowl, to improve and maintain habitat for other wildlife, and to provide opportunities for seasonal and compatible public recreation,” FWP said.
The land will be managed similarly to other public lands on the north shore and provide opportunities for wildlife viewing and hunting.
All FWP properties on the north shore are available for non-motorized public recreation, except for an annual closure from March 1 to July 15 to protect migrating and nesting birds.
The Flathead River to Lake initiative has conserved more than 5,000 acres of public and private lands along the Flathead River and north shore of Flathead Lake in the past 10 years, part of a landscape-scale, collaborative effort.