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.
City Manager Susan Nicosia stated that the city is extremely grateful to Fish, Wildlife and Parks for their initial pursuit of a fishing pond in the Columbia Falls community and the partnership with the Flathead Land Trust for coordinating and funding the project. The fishing pond will be a tremendous asset to the community and a great addition to River’s Edge Park. The recent completion of the 3rd Ave E connector trail provides a short walking access to River’s Edge Park.
“As the local, community-based land trust in the Flathead, connecting kids and their families to the outdoors through fishing at a new pond in River’s Edge Park is an exciting opportunity and we’re very proud to be part of the collaborative effort to help make it possible,” said Paul Travis, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) committed to helping fund part of the project through the Bill Kamps Memorial Fund. FWP plans to stock the pond annually with Westslope cutthroat trout, while also promoting outdoor education and fishing activities.
“There were many individuals and groups invested in bringing family fishing to Columbia Falls,” said Mike Hensler, FWP Region 1 fisheries manager. “We hope and expect that when completed, this pond will provide an opportunity for young and first-timers to start on a path to become lifelong anglers and learn about the diverse fisheries in northwest Montana.”
Schellinger Construction is donating the excavator and operator hours for developing the pond.
Hamilton Excavating is donating time to help haul fill from the project site.
Sands Surveying has donated services, administration of permits and other expertise.
Applied Water Consulting donated expertise and services to obtain several permits.
JD Thinning is donating services to clean up the streets during the hauling process.
Biking in Rivers Edge Park, Columbia Falls.
In 2019, the new fishing pond will provide excellent and safe fishing opportunities for young anglers, their families, and individuals with disabilities in a beautiful natural setting located right in town.