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Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project

Published on August 14, 2020 under News

Help us protect 800 acres of critical habitat along the Flathead River at a focal point of landscape connectivity & secure public access.

 

Download informational project flyer HERE. 

We are so excited to announce that on Aug. 13, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission endorsed the proposal for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to pursue purchasing 800 acres of Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. (CFAC) land. Flathead Land Trust has partnered with FWP hoping to conserve this 800-acre property containing critical wildlife habitat at the mouth of Bad Rock Canyon for years. We were excited when CFAC entered into an agreement giving Flathead Land Trust and FWP a window of time to obtain the funding to purchase and conserve the property and create a new public Wildlife Management Area. CFAC has owned this land and kept it as open space along the Flathead River for decades. It is located just east of Columbia Falls south of the Flathead River and does not include the former aluminum plant site.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to work with Flathead Land Trust and FWP and their goal to purchase a portion of the CFAC property. From the many conversations we have had with members of the Trust, we know the property on the south side of the Flathead River is very important to the group and its commitment to the area. This project is a benefit to Columbia Falls, its residents and Flathead County,” said Cheryl Driscoll of Glencore, parent company of CFAC.

The “Bad Rock Canyon Project” borders 1.6 miles of the Flathead River and contains 700 acres of healthy riparian forest, 80 acres of wetlands, and a mile of a warm spring creek. It is located at a focal point of landscape connectivity just downstream of Bad Rock Canyon, a geographic pinch point where the Flathead River flows through a narrow canyon between the Swan and Whitefish mountain ranges. This strategically located land provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife including grizzly bears and 43 Species of Greatest Conservation Need. It also provides winter range for elk and white-tailed deer. The project would conserve key habitat for 192 species of birds for breeding, wintering, and as a vital stopover to refuel on their migration including 59 species identified as conservation priorities. In addition, the wetlands and quality riparian habitat on the property help safeguard the healthy function and excellent water quality of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake. The project would also add to a 12,000-acre network of conserved land along 50 miles of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake downstream of Columbia Falls.

The project will create new public access and recreational opportunities near Columbia Falls as the land would be owned and managed by FWP in the future. FWP’s Wildlife Management Areas are managed with wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation as the foremost concern, but FWP will seek public input on the types of potential public access opportunities such as a trail for hikers, bikers, and birdwatchers, and continuation of the youth and disabled hunting opportunities for deer and elk.

“This project creates a unique opportunity to protect wildlife habitat and public access on the doorstep of the Gateway to Glacier and along the Flathead River,” said FWP Regional Supervisor Jim Williams. “We appreciate our partners, CFAC and the Flathead Land Trust, for working towards a common goal of land stewardship that will benefit everyone into the future.”

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. has given Flathead Land Trust and MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks two years to obtain the funding to purchase the property to have a conservation outcome. We have obtained $5.3 million towards the purchase so far. We need $500,000 in non-Federal match to bring this important conservation project to fruition and get this vital 800 acres in MT Fish, Wildlife, & Parks ownership by Dec. 2021 so it is not sold, subdivided and developed into highly sought after riverfront lots.

You can help support this important conservation project by making a donation HERE.  Please designate your gift to the Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project in the comments box.

Or, send us a check at: Flathead Land Trust, PO Box 1913, Kalispell, MT 59903

Questions? Contact us at 406-752-8293 or lkatzman@flatheadlandtrust.org.