Conserving a Flathead Valley Ecological and Community Treasure
October 1, 2018 – We are excited to announce that the MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks West Valley Wildlife and Bird Viewing Area is now open the public!
Directions: To get to the bird viewing area from the intersection of Hwy. 93 and Reserve Dr. go three miles west and then go north on West Valley Dr. about a mile and you will see a sign for the viewing area (see Google Map). The best time of year to visit the bird viewing area to view sandhill cranes is September and October. The best time of day to visit is at sunset and the half hour after sunset when the sandhill cranes are coming in to roost for the night in shallow water in the pothole wetland or around sunrise before they leave to feed in the fields during the day.
West Valley Wetlands Community-Conservation
TOGETHER, WE DID IT! THANK YOU to everyone who helped us raise over $150,000 from October, 2016 through August, 2017 for the West Valley Wetlands project.
We raised 100% of the funding needed for the required non-federal match of the $1.4 million project – so many of you helped get us there. Click here to see our generous contributors and partners for the West Valley Wetlands.
Because of tremendous community support, we have now permanently conserved the West Valley Wetlands – almost 400 acres of rich farmland with an exceptional 45 acre pothole wetland that is part of an ecologically important area for birds and wildlife in the West Valley just northwest of Kalispell. We are truly in awe and full of gratitude to see this important conservation project come to fruition.
In partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, we also recently completed the public bird viewing area at the site which includes an improved access road, parking, and interpretive signs. We invite you all to the grand opening celebration of the bird viewing area on October 6 at the site.
We are also excited to announce that we were able to raise $10,000 through the Whitefish Community Foundation Great Fish Challenge which will help fund educational programs and the long-term stewardship of the West Valley Wetlands bird viewing area. Another big thank you to everyone who donated to us through the Great Fish to make that possible.
And finally, we would like to thank the generosity of talented folks who have donated photos and a video. Thanks to Jake Bramante and B.J. Worth for the amazing video about sandhill cranes and the West Valley Wetlands, and thanks to Dick Walker, Steve Muller and William Janoch for many amazing photos.
The West Valley includes a complex of wetlands in agricultural fields that support some of the highest numbers and diversity of wetland birds in the Flathead Valley. This includes the only known staging area for sandhill cranes in the Flathead Valley where hundreds of these magnificent birds can be viewed during their annual migration.
For more information about this incredible community conservation project, click here.
“The pothole wetland and surrounding agricultural land of this 400 acre project is critical for tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl, twenty species of shorebirds, and is part of a vital staging area for hundreds of sandhill cranes.”
Dan Casey, Bird Expert and Biologist for Ducks Unlimited, and formerly of American Bird Conservancy and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.