Flathead Land Trust and local partners identified the River to Lake Project area as a landscape with high biological value and seriously threatened natural resources.
From this assessment, we began work on the River to Lake Initiative, which encompasses a project area including the mainstem of the Flathead River (from the junction of the North, Middle and South Forks) to the North Shore of Flathead Lake. Click here to view the project area map. For in depth information about R2L, visit the website www.flatheadrivertolake.org.
Within the Crown of the Continent ecosystem and the northern Rockies landscape, the Flathead River and Lake provide habitat for threatened native fish, a high diversity of avian species, and an incredible array of terrestrial species. Flathead Lake is known as one of the cleanest lakes of its size in the world and contributes an estimated $10 billion to the local economy. The river and its associated wetlands have been identified as critical habitat by the Flathead Lakers Critical Lands project, the Nature Conservancy’s Northern Rockies Ecoregional plan, and has been designated as an “Important Bird Area” by Audubon.
The River to Lake Initiative is a collaborative effort to conserve and restore our Flathead River and Lake natural heritage – excellent water quality, outstanding scenic and recreation values, abundant fish and wildlife, and prime farmland. The River to Lake Initiative partners provide incentives and options for interested landowners to protect large parcels of critical habitat, including wetlands, riparian areas and adjacent farmland within the river corridor and on the north shore of Flathead Lake.
Over the past 10 years the River to Lake Initiative has conserved nearly 5,000 acres of critical lands adding to a network totaling nearly 11,000 acres of protected private and public lands in the river corridor and on the north shore of Flathead Lake. This protected habitat includes 41% of the 100-year floodplain, 29% of the main channel of the river, 51% of the wetlands, 49% of the quality riparian areas, 43% of the shallow groundwater, and 34% of the important agricultural soils in the focus area. About 57% of this protection is due to private land conservation and 45% due to the efforts of the River to Lake Initiative.
Read River 2 Lake News for the latest project developments under the River to Lake Initiative.