November 6, 2020 – Building Support for Bad Rock Canyon Conservation
As Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) gauges the public’s appetite for converting 800 acres of Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. (CFAC) property into a Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of Bad Rock Canyon, a raft of local stakeholders is working to buoy financial support.
Working in concert with the Flathead Land Trust, FWP has proposed purchasing the forested parcel situated along 1.6 miles of the Flathead River near Columbia Falls. The property, which is highly developable and under increasing pressure by the rapidly growing town of Columbia Falls, would be protected as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) under the proposal, while providing free public recreation access.
The Flathead Lakers and the Flathead Land Trust, as well as other partners in the Flathead River-to-Lake Initiative, have committed to raising a half-million dollars by August 2021 to help FWP secure $6.5 million in state and federal grants needed to purchase the property. To launch the funding efforts, the Flathead Lakers is auctioning off an 18-foot wooden boat restored by Greg McCormick, of Polson.
August 14, 2020 – Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project Gains Initial Approval
Fish and Wildlife Commission green lights purchase of 800 acres on CFAC land along Flathead River.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday endorsed a proposal to purchase 800 acres of Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. (CFAC) land in an effort to protect critical wildlife habitat and ensure public recreational access at the mouth of Bad Rock Canyon on the Flathead River.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, working in concert with the Flathead Land Trust, has proposed purchasing the forested parcel situated along 1.6 miles of the Flathead River near Columbia Falls. The property, which is highly developable and under increasing pressure by the rapidly growing town of Columbia Falls, would be protected as a Wildlife Management Area under the proposal, while providing free public recreation access as a designated Wildlife Management Area.
August 17, 2020 – New Somers Beach Park Proposed to Ensure Conservation and Access
For decades, access to a half-mile stretch of Flathead Lake shoreline east of Somers has been conducted through a handshake agreement with its owners, the Sliter family, which has been eying plans to protect the area from development and conserve wildlife habitat while continuing to allow public recreation.
In an effort to promote both conservation and public access along the north shore of Flathead Lake, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is proposing to acquire 106 acres of shoreline for the creation of a new state park, working in concert with the Sliter family and the Flathead Land Trust.
May 8, 2020 – Flathead River- Danford Conservation Easement Project Completed
The “Flathead River Conservation” project was completed on May 8th by the Danford family and Flathead Land Trust adding a 155-acre critical puzzle piece to a network of conserved land totaling almost 12,000 acres along the Flathead River important to sustaining the River and Flathead Lake’s excellent water quality, abundant fish and wildlife, rich farm soils, and the incredible quality of life we enjoy in the Flathead Valley. The conservation easement protects key wetlands and riparian habitat and rich farm soils along a third of a mile of the Flathead River adjacent to 725 acres of conserved private land. A plethora of wildlife use the project property and threatened bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout, a species of special concern, use waters adjacent to the project property. Thousands of waterfowl use not only the river and wetlands on the project property, but also its farmland to feed and refuel on their migration. The easement keeps soils identified as some of the richest in the nation by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in agriculture. The Danford family has been farming and good stewards of this wildlife-rich land for almost 100 years. This conservation easement ensures the family’s agricultural legacy, as well as the open space and rich wildlife habitat along this stretch of the Flathead River lives on in perpetuity.
April 7, 2020 – Possible new state park at Somers Beach on Flathead Lake’s north shore
We are excited to announce that on May 11, the Montana State Parks and Recreation Board endorsed the proposal to have Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks complete its due diligence and further consider the Somers Beach property owned by the Sliter family on the north shore of Flathead Lake as a future state park.
The Board was impressed with the number of positive comments in support of the project – we received over 250 comments with overwhelming support for the project that were forwarded to the Board for their consideration. Thank you so much for taking the time to write in support of the project! Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will now begin its process to assess the site and request public input for how a state park could work for the area. Details for how a future park could look or be operated have not been proposed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at this time. There will be additional requests for public input and public comment periods to consider the details of a state park at the site. We’ll provide updates as we learn more about the process and how you can continue to support the project.
April 7, 2020 – Robbins Conservation Easement Along Wiley’s Slough Completed
Flathead Land Trust closed on a 26-acre conservation easement last week on Wiley’s Slough in the lower valley which was generously donated by Dean Robbins. The agricultural property contains 982 feet of shoreline along Wiley’s Slough and is adjacent to and contiguous with 1,235 acres of private land already conserved at Wiley’s Slough. It is also adjacent to the Lakeside Water and Sewer District agricultural properties. Conserving this property ensures that its agricultural open space, 100-year floodplain and important riparian vegetation along Wileys Slough will be protected in perpetuity.
December 12, 2019 – Gael Bissell and Constanza von der Pahlen receive 2019 Conservation Leadership Award
On December 12th at the Flathead Land Trust holiday and member appreciation party, Gael Bissell and Constanza von der Pahlen were each recognized for their many years of dedicated work and significant achievements in protecting our land and water throughout NW Montana with the 2019 Conservation Leadership Award.
“We can’t think of two more deserving people to receive the award this year and are very grateful for their unwavering leadership, service and commitment to conserving our spectacular land and water legacy through community-based conservation”, said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust executive director.
September 17, 2019 – Protected Habitat Added to Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area
More than 250 acres of bird and wildlife habitat were recently conserved as easements in the Smith Valley due to partnerships between private landowners, conservation groups and federal wildlife agencies.
The recent project adds 257 acres to a block of over 1,800 acres of conserved lands safeguarding a large wetland complex in the Smith Valley for people and wildlife.
The conserved lands include the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area and adjacent private lands with conservation easements held by Flathead Land Trust, Montana Land Reliance, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to the Flathead Land Trust, the wetlands complex provides a critical feeding stopover for tens of thousands of birds each year during their migration journeys.
January 2, 2019 – Another 78 acres of North Fork of the Flathead wildlife habitat conserved
The North Fork Flathead River valley is one of the most ecologically intact and wild river valleys of the lower 48 states where nearly all of the original species that existed prior to European settlement still roam the woods. At the close of 2018, a pocket of those woods owned by Molly Shepherd was protected in perpetuity with the Flathead Land Trust to ensure that they continue to serve as exceptional wildlife habitat and open space.
The 78-acre forested property near Trail Creek sits on a bench and contains seasonally wet areas that are visited by moose, bear, mountain lions, wolves, lynx, elk, fox, at least 80 documented migrant bird species and numerous other wildlife. Shepherd purchased the property in 1987 and has since restored the previously poorly managed forest to ecological good health, subsequently certifying it as a Tree Farm with the American Forest Foundation in 2014.
November 27, 2018 – Columbia Falls Community Fishing Pond Almost Complete
In 2017, Flathead Land Trust received a $100,000 grant from the LOR Foundation to work collaboratively with Columbia Falls on a project to enhance livability and build upon the strengths that make Columbia Falls unique. The goal of the grant was to help the community develop a project that increases access to recreation, protects clean water, and promotes the quality of life in the community.
Flathead Land Trust worked with the City of Columbia Falls and formed a working group featuring members of the business community, nonprofits, city council and others organized to help decide the best use of the grant funds. The group agreed that a fishing pond surrounded by a walking trail would create an ideal amenity for families at the city’s largest park, River’s Edge, which spans more than 20 acres near the Flathead River.
Crews broke ground on the project Oct. 29, 2018. Initial excavation work on the pond was completed by November 21st. FLT, the City and FWP plan to complete a trail and fishing piers, as well as stock the pond with native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in early 2019. The new pond is slated for completion in summer 2019 and will provide the community a family friendly, accessible location for fishing and wildlife viewing.
October 6, 2018 – Grand Opening of New West Valley Wetland Bird and Wildlife Viewing Area
Flathead Beacon News Article: A bird and wildlife viewing area will be open to the public in the West Valley this fall thanks to over 80 partners and contributors from the community. This public viewing area overlooks a unique pothole wetland surrounded by agricultural land that is part of the only known staging area for sandhill cranes in the Flathead Valley.
Flathead Land Trust recently completed conservation easements with the Grosswiler and Marvin families to conserve almost 400 acres of this critical area and provide for the public viewing area. Under the conservation easements, the land will remain in private ownership and continue to be farmed and managed by the landowner while protecting the valuable bird and wildlife habitat in perpetuity. The families have been farming in the West Valley for over 100 years and the conservation project will preserve their agricultural legacy.
Conservation easements do not always allow public access; however, the Grosswiler and Marvin families have generously allowed for a quarter acre of the conserved land to be used as a public viewing area. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks saw the project as a positive way to accommodate the increasing demands for safe and easily accessible wildlife viewing opportunities for all ages. The agency helped facilitate the project by accepting a quarter-acre public easement for the viewing area and road. The viewing area will serve as an educational site for local schools and other groups. It is ideally situated only about two miles from the Kalispell and close to 26 schools including the Flathead Valley Community College.
December 7th, 2017 –Alison Young and Don Murray Receive the 2017 Conservation Leadership Award
On December 7th at our holiday party and member appreciation celebration, both Alison Young and Don Murray were each presented with a Flathead Land Trust Conservation Leadership Award for their incredible service and dedication over many years to our organization and conservation in the Flathead Valley.
We can’t think of two more deserving people to receive this award. We should all be very grateful for Alison and Don for their unwavering leadership, service and commitment to conserving our spectacular land and water legacy through community-based conservation.
July 6, 2017 – Columbia Falls and Flathead Land Trust Receive LOR Foundation Grant
The City of Columbia Falls and the Flathead Land Trust have received a $100,000 grant from the LOR Foundation to work collaboratively to enhance livability and build upon the strengths that makes the Columbia Falls community unique. The grant will help the community to plan and implement a project to increase access to recreation, protect clean water, and promote the quality of life in Columbia Falls.
The LOR Foundation selected 15 rural communities from western Montana to southern New Mexico to participate in the grant program. The program aims to build locally-driven solutions with community collaboration and engagement.
The City of Columbia Falls and Flathead Land Trust have assembled a planning committee which includes business, nonprofit, and city elected officials and staff to begin planning of a project which will enhance livability and quality of life for the community of Columbia Falls.
Susan Nicosia, City Manager, said the City is excited to be working with the Flathead Land Trust on this project. The City Council’s long-term goals include improving recreational opportunities and potentially expanding the use of River’s Edge Park. The LOR grant funding and partnership with the Flathead Land Trust will ensure the project is successful.
The LOR Foundation is dedicated to improving quality of life in the Intermountain West through locally-driven solutions. The Foundation partners with rural communities in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Find out more at www.lorfoundation.org.
Traversing the Lower Valley is a trip through Montana’s existential crisis.
Look right to see endless open fields framed by majestic, snow capped mountains. Look left at shimmering, brick McMansions protected by foreboding iron gates.
Look right to see a pair of white-tailed deer grabbing a snack, a bald eagle standing sentry and a flock of geese gliding in for a landing. Look left at the smiling faces of real estate agents, decorating enticing signs promoting “waterfront properties” now for sale.
But look right, too, to see the wavering world of agriculture. See farmers and their families making difficult choices, threatened by mass production and a sagging commodities market.
Then look left at the tourist dollars and the development dollars pumped into the community. Look left at the people who, by necessity, have pushed this land as a destination despite the objection of longtime residents, many of whom have been here for generations. Read More…
December 1, 2016 – Milt and B.J. Carlson receive the 2016 Flathead Land Trust Conservation Leadership Award
The incredible conservation leadership, service and dedication of Milt and B.J. Carlson was honored at our holiday party and annual meeting on Thursday, December 1st as the couple accepted the third annual FLT Conservation Leadership Award.
After arriving in the Flathead in the late 1980’s, both Milt and B.J. began getting very involved in conservation and community service. The Carlson’s set a great example to others by donating a conservation easement on 19 acres of their property along the Stillwater River just north of the hospital in 1990. They conserved another 7 acres of the uplands of the property in 1998. Milt joined the FLT board in 1991 and was involved as a board of director or advisory board member until 2007 – a total of over 17 years!
Milt and B.J. have given so much back to this community through their tireless volunteerism and activism. This includes founding members of Citizens for a Better Flathead, members of North 93 Neighbors, City-County Planning Board, and the Glacier Symphony and Chorale board to name a few. They are also generous philanthropic supporters to FLT and many organizations doing good work in the Flathead.
Susan How, former FLT executive director said “Both Milt and BJ have always personified grace and goodwill under pressure. Their shared sense of the values of community, conservation, and caring mark the true north of a compass that guides us all to do our best.”
Thank you Milt and B.J. for all that you’ve helped to accomplish and have made possible. Our Flathead land, water and community owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
The Flathead Land Trust is working on a new project, one that will cement the idea that the wetlands of West Valley are for the birds. More specifically, the new project seeks to conserve a 400-acre section of family farmland important for 144 species of bird, with special focus on the sandhill cranes. According to FLT, more than 400 of these large, long-limbed birds have been seen at one time using a four-square-mile staging area to rest and fuel up for the rest of their fall migration. Read More…
February 12, 2016 – Latest Land Addition Boosts Protected Acreage on north shore (Flathead Beacon article)
A 77-acre slice of farmland and wildlife habitat along the north shore of Flathead Lake is gaining permanent protection by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The conservation project is the latest section along the north shore to become permanently protected, bringing the total acreage up to 426 acres. The property will be part of the North Shore Wildlife Management Area, which consists of two other parcels already owned and managed by FWP. It sits next to the 1,887-acre Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation easements held on private land by Montana Land Reliance and Flathead Land Trust. Read More…
Nearly a year after his death at age 90, George Darrow’s legacy as a leading conservationist in the Flathead Valley continues to grow.
The Flathead Land Trust is nearing a deal for two conservation easements totaling 671 acres of land north of Bigfork that belonged to the well-known civic leader and conservationist. Read More…
December 18, 2015 – Congress Votes to Make Permanent the Tax Incentive for Conservation Easement Donations
Today, Congress made the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent! This is especially big news for farmers. Here is an explanation of what the Conservation Easement Tax Incentive is:
A landowner can claim a federal income tax deduction for the value of a donated easement — similar to other charitable donations. By keeping land as open space with a conservation easement (giving up the ability to residentially subdivide or use it for commercial purposes such as gas stations and department stores), landowners are giving up some of its value. The value of the easement is calculated by determining the difference in property value before and after the easement. The enhanced incentive allows landowners to realize more of the value of the deduction.
This Conservation Easement Tax Incentive:
- Raises the maximum federal income tax deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of a their adjusted gross income (AGI) in any year to 50%
- Allows qualified farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their AGI
- Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years
The tax incentive that was made permanent today was first established in 2006, but had expired at the end of 2014. In a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted 65-33 today to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This follows yesterday’s 318-109 vote in the House. Today’s vote also reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years and increased its funding from $306 million last year to $450 million this year.
The conservation achievements and leadership of Dr. Lex Blood and Mike Conner were recognized at the FLT holiday party and membership meeting on Thursday, December 3rd with the Flathead Land Trust Leadership Award. This is the second year the award has been given to recognize the conservation achievements, leadership, and incredible volunteer service individuals have given to the community through their work with Flathead Land Trust. Read More…
Over 300 acres of land important for birds and other wildlife was conserved in the Smith and Mission valleys this week as a result of two landowners partnering with Flathead Land Trust. The two conservation projects will ensure about 180 acres of wetlands and one and a half miles of streams will be protected as wildlife habitat in perpetuity as well as keeping valuable ranch land in farming. Read More…
Help us reach our goal of $10,000 in new donation support by the end of this year so we can develop and complete new conservation projects in 2016. Give before December 31st and your donation of new support will be MATCHED through the Sustainability Fund of the Flathead Community Foundation. Read More…
From the crowded Bay Area in Northern California, David Sowerwine and his wife, Haydi, last month retreated to a plot of land secluded near the north shore of Flathead Lake. For David, arriving at the quiet countryside was like traveling back in time to when he and his siblings spent a greater part of their youth in this rural acreage that their father, Owen, had acquired in the early 1950s.
The Sowerwine family farm encompasses 157 acres along the shores of Fennon Slough, a meandering channel of the Flathead River near its final destination in the expansive, pristine lake. The property includes one of the valley’s original homesteads, and historic log cabins still dot the empty landscape. Read More…
In July, people from across Montana and locally here in the Flathead are invited to observe the first ever Montana Open Land Month. Flathead Land Trust is partnering in this month-long celebration which offers a chance to reflect on all that open land represents: our agricultural heritage, vast outdoor recreational opportunities, clean water, diverse wildlife habitat, scenic splendor, tremendous economic benefits, a vibrant tourism industry, freedom to roam and so much more! Read More…
The Flathead Land Trust acknowledged the leadership and conservation achievements of Ken Siderius and Bill Dakin at their annual membership meeting on Sunday, December 7th with the Flathead Land Trust Leadership Award. This is the first year the award has been given to recognize the conservation achievements, leadership, and incredible volunteer service individuals have given to the community through their work with Flathead Land Trust.
“We are very pleased to honor Ken and Bill with the first-ever Flathead Land Trust award,” said Paul Travis, Flathead Land Trust Executive Director.
The Flathead Land Trust and its partners have received final approval on the $1 Million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to preserve wetland habitat for migratory birds in the Flathead and Mission Valleys. Click on the title for complete information
July 1, 2014 – WELCOME to our new Executive Director PAUL TRAVIS!!
Most recently, Paul was the director of development for the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Prior to that, he was the director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation.
We’re excited to have him join us here at the Trust and we’re looking forward to his contributions to our organization.
Feel free to welcome Paul by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or to stop by our office at 33 2nd Street East, Kalispell, to welcome him in person. Paul brings over 14 years of nonprofit conservation and leadership experience to the position and holds a strong commitment to preserving our natural heritage, open space, and “way of life” in the Flathead for generations to come. Paul is the ideal person to provide the Flathead Land Trust with the strategic leadership necessary to insure the organization’s success into the future.
Paul has committed much of his professional career to nonprofit conservation work. His experience includes Director of Major Gifts for the Montana Environmental Information Center, both Program Director and Executive Director for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, working for Chapter Services with the National Audubon Society, and most recently serving as the Director of Development for the Glacier National Park Conservancy.
Paul has been very involved in the community for many years through Leadership Flathead, Roundtable of the Crown of the Continent, Glacier Country Avalanche Center, and the Montana Conservation Corps.
June 30, 2014 – Conservation of 525 acres of migratory bird habitat approved with federal grant
Tens of thousands of migratory birds use the Flathead as a crucial feeding stopover in their epic journey south . . . Flathead Land Trust and its partners recently received approval by the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to fund a $1 million grant proposal to conserve some of these important wetlands and agricultural lands. Five projects were proposed to conserve 525 acres of wetlands and associated uplands and restore 125 acres of wetland habitat used by migratory birds in the Flathead and Mission valleys. These projects include adding wetlands to the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, increasing protection of the north shore of Flathead Lake by adding to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Management Area, helping the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes protect wetlands along the Mission Mountain Front, protecting wetlands just east of the National Bison Range, and restoring a wetland/spring creek complex east of Columbia Falls.
Upon final approval by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and an approved Federal budget for 2015, the partners will implement these important migratory bird habitat conservation projects. The projects funded by this grant will continue the work of Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, a landscape-scale, collaborative effort to conserve critical lands along the north shore of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River.
Read more in our Featured Projects section.
Feb. 2014 – Important HABITAT PROTECTED on north shore of Flathead Lake
Flathead Land Trust initiated and helped facilitate the protection of 189 acres on the north shore of Flathead Lake. This project protects habitat important to thousands of migratory birds that use the North Shore as a resting stop on their trip between the southwestern United States and Canada. It also protects fragile water quality in Flathead Lake important to fisheries such as bull trout that use the lake along the North Shore. The 189 acres was purchased by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to add to their North Shore Wildlife Management Area with Bonneville Power Administration funds.
River to Lake Partners receive Wetland Stewardship Award (May 26, 2011)
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