Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project
Thank you for helping us protect 772 acres of critical habitat along the Flathead River at a focal point of landscape connectivity & secure public access with the new Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area.
Update – December 21, 2021 – It’s official! Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has purchased the 772-acre Bad Rock Canyon property along the Flathead River from Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. for a new public accessible Wildlife Management Area. Thank you to all of our partners, donors and the community for stepping up to make this conservation dream a reality! Read more here.
Update – November 15, 2021: Hooray! The Montana Land Board unanimously gave final approval for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to purchase the 772-acre Bad Rock Canyon Project land to be managed as a Wildlife Management Area! The agency will now proceed towards closing on the purchase before the end of the year. Thank you to everyone who donated, wrote comments of support, or partnered to get us to the finish line. It’s a big day for conservation in the Flathead!
Update – October 28, 2021: Great News! The Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously gave final approval for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to purchase the 772-acre Bad Rock Canyon Project land to be managed as a Wildlife Management Area! The next and final step will be for the proposed acquisition to go before the Land Board on November 15 for approval.
Update-September 15, 2021: Thanks to all who submitted comments to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks supporting the Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project as part of the comment period for the draft environmental assessment for the project. The agency received 209 comments and all were in support of the acquisition by the State of Montana as a proposed Wildlife Management Area.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has issued a decision notice recommending that the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve their purchase of the 772-acre Bad Rock property to manage it as a Wildlife Management Area (you can view the decision notice at https://fwp.mt.gov/public-notices/news).
The proposed acquisition will now go before the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their meeting on Oct. 28. If approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission, it will then go before the Montana Land Board on Nov. 15.
Update-September 15, 2021: We are excited to announce that we have officially raised the necessary funding for the Bad Rock Canyon Conservation project! We have received the pending grant award that we announced in June and have reached the fundraising goal to assist Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks with the purchase of the Bad Rock Canyon conservation area.
Thank you to everyone who has donated generously to ensure the purchase of the Bad Rock Canyon conservation area. We are incredibly grateful for the support!
On Aug. 13, 2020 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. Currently, the property is under a Block Management Agreement with FWP and is open to youth hunters and hunters with disabilities during the fall general hunting season. Gateway to Glacier Trail, Inc., a community-led trails organization, currently has a license agreement with CFAC and is constructing a trail on the property to allow access for the public.
“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 [email protected]