Saving room for open space in the Flathead
A Land Trust effort in the Flathead aims to maintain farmland, open space, wildlife habitat, and water quality. The Flathead Land Trust has been working with the current owner of a 189-acre property along the north shore of Flathead Lake. Land Protection Specialist Laura Katzman with the Flathead Land Trust said the property was originally homesteaded in the 1800’s. The old barn is still there, but the home has since come down. The property’s neighbor to the west is a U-S Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Area, nearby Fish, Wildlife and Parks has a wildlife management area and state park, across the highway 157 acres are part of the Flathead Land Trust, and the Montana Land Reliance has also has a land trust in the neighborhood.
“The north shore of Flathead Lake has so many neat resources that are already protected by the Fish and Wildlife Production Area. But, the neighboring agricultural land is actually very important to the migratory waterfowl that come through here, the 10s of thousands of birds that come through here in the spring and fall, and it’s also really great farm land, so it’s a really great place to continue to work with interested landowners to protect,” Katzman said.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks is looking to buy this property using money from the Bonneville Power Administration. The funding comes through FWP’s fisheries mitigation program to help offset impacts associated with the construction of Hungry Horse Dam. BPA would keep a perpetual conservation easement on the property if FWP acquires it in order to ensure long-term protection of the property.
Farther west along the north shore some of the farm land on the edge of the town of Somers has seen residential development, and other residential development is being pursued. Katzman said this area is one of the spots where’d they’d like to work with as many interested landowners as they can to maintain the open space of the north shore farm land.
“Usually, conservation easements tries to limit high density residential subdivision or industrial activities; so, trying to maintain the open space and the fish and wildlife habitat, and the prime soils,” Katzman said.
FWP is seeking public comment about whether to acquire the property. It’s holding an open house at the Flathead Lake Inn at the intersection of U.S. 93 and Highway 82 in Somers next Tuesday, August 20th starting at 6. It’ll collect public comment until the August 31st.