Events & Workshops

Smith Lake Bike and Bird Tour, May, 16

Birds and number observed on Smith Lake Bike and Bird Tour, May 16:Bike and Bird Tour of Smith Lake Area 051615b

Canada Goose  42
Gadwall  6
Mallard  7
Cinnamon Teal  4
Northern Shoveler  15
Green-winged Teal  1
Redhead  2
Ring-necked Duck  2
Ring-necked Pheasant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Sora  8
American Coot  22
Killdeer  5
Wilson’s Snipe  3Bike and Bird Tour Smith Lake Area 051615
Mourning Dove  2
Northern Flicker  1
Black-billed Magpie  3
Common Raven  5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  45
Barn Swallow  12
Cliff Swallow  15
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  1
Marsh Wren  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4megan-bikebirdtour
Mountain Bluebird  2
American Robin  5
European Starling  3
Common Yellowthroat  3    FOY
Yellow Warbler  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  10
Vesper Sparrow  2
Savannah Sparrow  12
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  24
Yellow-headed Blackbird  12
Brewer’s Blackbird  12
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
House Finch  4
Pine Siskin  5
American Goldfinch  3
House Sparrow  7

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


2015 Riparian Restoration Projects

DSCN28282015-4-11 willow planting with volunteers (11)2015-04-28 13.42.51This spring, Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners planted over 1,000 shrubs and trees on two properties along the Flathead River as part of an expanding restoration effort to restore riparian areas.

The restored riparian areas will help improve habitat for fish and wildlife, protect water quality from agricultural runoff, and slow down erosion of the river banks.

Over 35 volunteers helped collect willows to plant along the river banks, build fences to protect young trees from deer browsing, seed exposed soils with native grasses, and plant native trees and shrubs.

2015-4-11 willow planting with volunteers (15)2015-4-11 willow planting with volunteers (22)2015-4-11 willow planting with volunteers (18)

Projects will be maintained and monitored by Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners for several years to ensure success and learn what works best in this area.

The planting projects were organized through the Initiative’s Flathead River Steward program

Volunteers included landowners, Flathead Valley Community College professors and students, Big Sky Watershed Corps members, MT Conservation Corps members, and River to Lake partners – Flathead Lakers, Flathead Conservation District, Natural 2015-4-11 willow planting with volunteers (6)Resources Conservation Service, MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Flathead Land Trust. Thank you!

Many thanks to Ken Louden for putting together a wonderful BBQ for the volunteers and to Lower Valley Processing Company for providing food for the volunteers!

Diamond B  52015-04-28 10.51.58


Projects received funding and technical assistance from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.


4-15 Diamond B 9Our Flathead River Steward program engages a Big Sky Watershed Corps member, Megan Stockfisch (she is our third Corps member!) who helped recruit and coordinate volunteers. To learn about volunteer opportunities contact Megan at 406-752-4242 extension 109, or


Flathead River to Lake partners and landowners work together to protect and restore our natural heritage.Diamond B  4


Welcome 2015 Big Sky Watershed Corps member

HeadshotMegan Stockfisch joined the Flathead River to Lake Initiative in January to help continue and expand our Flathead River Steward program.  This is the third year the Flathead Lakers are hosting a Big Sky Watershed Corps (associated with AmeriCorps) member to help initiative partners and interested landowners restore riparian areas along the Flathead River and the north shore of Flathead Lake.

Megan will be assisting River to Lake Initiative partners, including landowners, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Flathead Conservation District, and the Flathead Lakers plan and implement restoration projects, such as riparian fencing, planting, and weeding, and education projects, such as sharing information with landowners about financial assistance programs for restoration and conservation projects.

She will also help coordinate volunteer river restoration and clean-up projects, and conduct water education activities for students. Watch for new volunteer opportunities next summer!

Megan will work closely with Aaron Clausen who served as our Corps member last year. Aaron is staying on with the Flathead River Steward program to help transition and build the program from the two-year pilot project into a permanent program.

Megan graduated from University of California Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences.  Megan loves to fish, hike, camp, kayak, and anything to do with plants.  She is looking forward to engaging with river landowners to learn about their concerns and help with restoration challenges.

Megan and Aaron are based at the Natural Resource Conservation Service office in Kalispell. They can be reached at 406-752-4242 extension 109. Megan can be reached by email at Aaron can be reached at

Welcome to the Flathead and the River to Lake Initiative, Megan!


Celebration of Local Natural and Cultural Heritage


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Lakers, and Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners invite you to

celebrate the conservation of a unique property on Flathead Lake’s beautiful north shore and the protection of the north shore’s scenic vistas, hunting heritage, clean water, farmland, and bird habitat.

Thursday, August 21, 5:00 – 7:00 pm


ribbon-cutting to inaugurate the North Shore Wildlife Management Area

tours of restored McClarty Barn by Darrell Worm

presentation on the history of the homestead by Donetta McClarty Antonovich, great-granddaughter of homesteader Joseph McClarty

 $5 per person for Huckleberry Barbeque Pork Sandwiches provided by Somers Bay Café

RSVP by August 15 to

Laura Katzman, Flathead Land Trust, 752-8293 or

 Hope you can join us!

 Directions: 2080 Highway 82 on the S curve, turn south on Fennon Way

Click here to see a MAP


Bike and & Bird Tour, Saturday May 17

Join the Flathead Land Trust and Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners on a Bike and Bird tour on Saturday, May 17, from 9 am to noon. This fun outing will showcase protected wetlands, riparian forests, and farmland that help birds and other wildlife thrive.

Bruce Tannehill, Flathead Audubon bird expert, will be our birding guide.We will bike 10 miles from Fun Beverage, stopping along the way to view birds and their habitat, and ending at Somers Bay Café for lunch. Click here for more information and to see a map of the biking route.

Directions and Biking Route

Meet at Fun Beverage, 175 School House Loop. Parking is by the flags west of building. We will bike for about 10 miles from Fun Beverage, stopping along the way to view birds and their habitat, and ending at Somers Bay Café for lunch (see map below). The café will donate 15% of the cost of your lunch to the Flathead Land Trust. After lunch, you can ride at your leisure on the bike path along Hwy. 93 back to Fun Beverage (about five miles). We will provide transportation to our starting point for those who desire.

What to bring

Binoculars, water, snack, sunscreen, and dress for the weather. Please sign the enclosed registration and waiver form and bring it with you.


We will provide a map with information about the birding stops and the value of protecting important habitat.

biking tour map

RSVP by May 16 to

Laura Katzman, 752-8293 or

Hope you can join us!

Flathead Land Trust


Flathead Audubon

Flathead Lakers

Flathead River to Lake Initiative



Volunteers help plant trees at Foys Bend

2014 5-3 Foys Bend Vol tree planting (3)MT Conservation Corps and Flathead Valley Community College volunteers helped plant hundreds of willows on Saturday, May 3, 2014 along the Flathead River at Foys Bend to help MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks restore riparian habitat at their Foys Bend Fisheries Conservation Area south of Kalispell.

2014 5-3 Foys Bend Vol tree planting (4)FWP purchased this beautiful river property a few years ago and is now working to plant native plant along the river banks to slow down erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitat.

2014 5-3 Foys Bend Vol tree planting (17)Flathead River Steward Aaron Clausen is helped organize this Earth/Arbor Day planting event with the assistance of the MT Conservation Corps.

2014 5-3 Foys Bend Vol tree planting (18)rdThank you to a great crew of volunteers who helped plant hundreds of native willow, dogwood, and chokecherry plants last Saturday!




Smith Lake & West Valley Wetland Birding Tour

Photos, March 22, 2014

mtbluebird-birding guideSigns of spring are here as large flocks of ducks, geese, swans, and other migratory waterfowl arrive in the Flathead Valley’s wetlands scattered throughout the valley’s farm fields and the shores of Flathead Lake.

P1050127Over 26 people joined bird expert Dan Casey, guiding Saturdays’ birding tour around Smith Lake and West Valley wetlands, to observe migratory waterfowl and other birds that use wetlands and surrounding uplands.

Beginner and advanced bird enthusiasts were able to enjoy a close view of many birds thanks to several experts joining the tour and sharing their knowledge and spotting scopes. Birds observed ranged from Mallards, Northern Pintail, Western and Mountain Bluebirds, and young bald eagles around Smith Lake, to Tundra Swans, Common and Barrow’s Goldeye, Northern Shoveler,  Green-winged Teal, American and Eurasian Widgeon, Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and in the open wetlands and ponds scattered throughout the West Valley agricultural fields.

Photo by JukkaJantunen, VIREO

Photo by JukkaJantunen, VIREO

Landowner and farmer Pete Wade talked about his efforts to place 50 acres in a conservation easement around the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. The conservation easement would help protect both the farming soils and the wetland habitat that is so important to migratory waterfowl. The Flathead Land Trust recently secured two grants (Small North America Wetlands Conservation Act and Traveler’s for Open Lands grants) to help protect these wetlands – critical stopping, feeding, and breeding places for birds. To read more about this click here..

P1050123The tour was organized by Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners, including the Flathead Land Trust, the Flathead Lakers, and the American Bird Conservancy. The Flathead Lakers work closely with Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners to find solutions that work for landowners to help protect critical lands for sustaining clean water.

Thank you everyone for a great birding field trip! To view a map and guide to birding in the Flathead Valley click here.



North shore swans by Karen Nichols

Flathead Audubon’s expert birder Craig Hohenberger will be leading an East Flathead Valley Early Migration bird field trip on Sunday, March 23 from 9 am to noon.

Explore a wide variety of waterfowl, eagles, raptors, and other early migrants on a relatively new wetland area near Creston, along Riverside Road, Flathead River, and around Egan and Half-Moon Sloughs.

Flooded fields, sloughs, and open water will make it possible to observe hundreds of swans including both tundra and trumpeters, snow and Canada geese, a wide variety of diving and dabbling ducks including Eurasian wigeon, early song-birds, and other interesting birds and wildlife.

Meet to carpool at 9 am at the south end of the Creston Fire Hall parking lot located in Creston along Highway 35 and the north end of Riverside Road. We will return about noon.

Bring binoculars and/or spotting scopes, snacks and dress for the weather.  For further information and to sign up, call Gael Bissell at 261-2255.  All ages and birding abilities are welcome.



Flathead Lake North Shore property protected

20070315 north shore flight pt. 1617A conservation project protecting 189 acres along the north shore of Flathead Lake was completed last Friday.

The project was the result of a collaborative effort by landowner Darrell Worm, Flathead Land Trust, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Bonneville Power Administration.

“My hope for this unique property has been that it could be preserved for the people of Montana to enjoy and that its historic character could be protected,” Worm, a Kalispell attorney, said. “I am thrilled that through the efforts of the Flathead Land Trust and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks this hope can be realized.” To accomplish this he agreed to a “bargain sale” of his property to the state and, using proceeds from the sale, to fund the restoration of the historic barn built by the original homesteaders of the property, Katzman said.

North_shore_conservation_projectFWP-WormThe Worm property will be managed as the North Shore Wildlife Management Area and adjoins the sate Wildlife Management Area and State Park that are 161 acres in size. The property is also adjacent 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.

The Worm property includes agricultural lands that frequently flood in the spring during snowmelt and provide a food source for migratory waterfowl, Katzman said.7-11 North Shore WMA birds This conservation project helps protect Flathead Lake’s water quality and adds to the protection of land used by tens of thousands of migratory birds.

The north shore of Flathead Lake is as an important refueling stop each spring for migratory birds as they make their long journey from wintering grounds in Mexico to their breeding grounds in Canada, according to Laura Katzman of the Flathead Land Trust.

To learn more about Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners’ vision for the north shore click here.

The new state land will provide public opportunities for both wildlife viewing and hunting year round except during a seasonal closure from March 1 to July 15 for migrating and nesting birds. Future plans include maintaining agricultural production along with gradual wetland and riparian restoration.

To read the rest of the Bigfork Eagle article, click the following link:


Smith Lake & West Valley Wetland Birds Tour, Saturday, March 22, 1 PM

Tundra_Swan_The bird guideJoin us on Saturday, March 22, from 1 – 4 p.m. on a bird watching tour around Smith Lake and West Valley with bird expert Dan Casey. Learn about birds that use some of the beautiful wetlands found in the valley and how landowners’ conservation efforts help maintain these local gems.

The tour starts at 1 p.m. at the Smith Lake Fishing Access Site. Space is limited so please call to confirm. To reserve a space or for more information call Laura Katzman at 752-8293.

Directions to the Smith Lake Fishing Access Site: Go 7 miles west of Kalispell on Highway 2 milepost 221, then 3 miles on County Road. We will carpool from there.

What to bring: Binoculars, water, snacks, sunscreen. Dress for the weather.

Some birds we might see (click on blue ones to see a photo and information):

Smith Lake: Red-necked, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebes, Black Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Wood Duck, American Bittern, Willow Flycatcher, Mountain and Western Bluebirds, among others.
West Valley: Pectoral Sandpiper, Black-bellied and American Golden Plover, Stilt Sandpiper, and Long-billed Dowitchers. Red-tailed Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk, Bald Eagle and Prairie Falcon. Eared and Horned Grebes, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Cinnamon Teal. Sandhill Crane. Snow and Ross’s Geese (in spring) and Bonaparte’s Gull. Savannah and Vesper Sparrow, Western Meadowlark and Gray Partridge.

2013 Wetland Birds Tour

5-4-2013 Wetland Birds Tour (5) Last May, 2013, over a dozen folks, from beginners to bird experts, enjoyed an afternoon learning about migratory ducks and other birds that depend on wetlands for nesting and feeding.

The bird tour was led by Dan Casey, with the American Bird Conservancy, around Smith Lake and the West Valley area.

Folks saw a variety of ducks, although landowners around Smith Lake joined the group to tell us about all the great sightings we missed by a week, or two, or three.

With that in mind, we are planning to get out earlier in 2014 with the hope of catching some of these great flocks of ducks that visit Smith Lake and surrounding wetlands in the Spring.Birdwatching tourWValleystop050413b compressed

The last wetland stop took people’s breath away with the diversity of ducks, plus six Swans, four Sandhill cranes, and numerous other birds, all enjoying the same wetland.

5-4-2013 Wetland Birds Tour (2)The tour was organized by Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners, including the Flathead Land Trust, the Flathead Lakers, and the American Bird Conservancy.

Group organizers discussed the importance of protecting these wetlands so these birds have a place to stop, to feed, and to breed on their migratory routes.

The Flathead Land Trust discussed the land trusts’ role in protecting wetlands and surrounding farm lands and options available to landowners.5-4-2013 Wetland Birds Tour (3) The Flathead Lakers discussed the role of wetlands in protecting clean water, both surface and groundwater.

Check the following local guides for birding in the Flathead:

Click here to learn What You Can Do or contact one of us to discuss your interests.