Flathead Land Trust has finalized an agreement with a private landowner that will permanently protect more than 70 acres of forested land along the Flathead River near Eleanor Island by Columbia Falls.
The agreement allows the landowner to continue to own and manage the property much as they have in the past, but prohibits subdivision development and ensures that natural features on the property will be conserved forever.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks facilitated funding for the project from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).
The forested property contains wetlands, a third of a mile of riverbank and a spring creek that is important for bull trout in the Flathead River. The importance of the property to the river system made the project a high priority for the use of BPA funds.
“We have been working hard with Flathead Land Trust and other partners to preserve water quality and promote riparian habitat for fisheries benefits in the Flathead River,” Kris Tempel of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement.
“This is an important property to protect in that effort and we were happy to help secure funding for it.”
The projects adds to the more than 5,000 permanently protected acres as part of the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, a collaborative effort of private landowners, conservation organizations, and county, tribal, state and federal agencies working to conserve critical lands along the Flathead River and north shore of Flathead Lake.
The Initiative’s success has been largely due to private landowners’ willingness to voluntarily conserve their properties, according to the Flathead Land Trust. “Conservation efforts like this project are often very complex and can take a few years to complete, but the final result is something that we all are very proud of and will prove to be a real benefit to the community over time,” said Ryan Hunter with the Flathead Land Trust.
Flathead Land Trust was established in 1985 by community members concerned about the rapidly growing population and maintaining the Flathead Valley’s natural beauty, clean water, and special places that sustain our high quality of life. Flathead Land Trust has worked with private landowners to conserve over 10,000 acres locally of important fish and wildlife habitat and farmland through 51 perpetual legal agreements called conservation easements. In August, the local land trust earned national accreditation.