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News Archive 2014

News & Articles from the year 2014

FLT Flathead River$1 Million Grant Approved for Conserving Migratory Bird Habitat

Flathead Land Trust and Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners awarded a $1 million North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to conserve 525 acres of wetlands and agricultural lands and restore 125 wetland acres in the Flathead and Mission valleys.

R2L partners will work with several landowners who signed up as partners in the grant to complete five projects throughout the Flathead Watershed. Projects include important wetlands and surrounding uplands used by thousands of migratory birds on the north shore of Flathead Lake, around the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area west of Kalispell, near the Flathead River in Columbia Falls, and near the Mission Mountains and the National Bison Range. Lands protected and restored form part of a network of critical lands that help maintain water quality, healthy river function, abundant fish and wildlife, important agricultural soils, and scenic views. This is the third large NAWCA grant Flathead Land Trust and R2L partners have been awarded for conservation work in the Flathead in the past 10 years. To read more about this click here.

News & Events

Read our latest R2L News Summer 2014: $1 Million Grant Approved for Conserving Migratory Bird Habitat •  Over 2,000 trees and shrubs planted this summer along the Flathead River • 150 people gather to learn about and celebrate North Shore conservation • Bike and Bird Tour a great success • Welcome new Flathead Land Trust Executive Director Paul Travis • Welcome new Flathead Conservation District Resource Conservationist Valerie Kurth • Fall Events

FWP North Shore McClarty Barn

In the News: “Groups Celebrate North Shore Land Protection.” Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners celebrate the addition of 189 acres to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Management and the restoration of the historic barn on the property by previous landowner, Darrell Worm. Click here to read article by Flathead Beacon staff, Aug 26, 2014.

Smith Lake wetland complex conservation

A Final Puzzle Piece: Completing Montana’s Smith Lake Wetland Complex

“A solitary Sandhill crane lifts off the perimeter of a spring-greened wetland with a few indignant calls and flaps southward. A passel of conservation partners watch the bird’s flight from the north end of Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area and discuss the incredible migratory bird value of this place.” Read this article by Hannah Ryan, Intermountain West Joint Venture Communication Specialist, about what landowners and Flathead River to Lake Initiative partner are doing to protect the Smith Lake wetland complex. To read the article click here.

5-2014 NAWCA site visit (2)Dan Casey receives award for Exceptional Leadership in Bird Conservation

Dan Casey, American Bird Conservancy Coordinator of the Norther Rockies Bird Conservation Region, was presented the Partners in Flight Leadership Award at the International Migratory Bird Day event. Casey is a key partner with the Flathead River to Lake Initiative. With his support, partners have been able to secure million of dollars in grant funding for wetland conservation in northwestern Montana. (Photo: Casey holding a map of Smith Lake showing important bird areas in and around this wetland west of Kalispell).

Casey served six years as chair of Montana Partners in Flight and is a past chair of the Partners in Flight Western Working Group. He authored the 2000 Montana Bird Conservation Plan and was named 2006 Montana Conservationist of the Year. He has served on the technical committees of the Prairie Potholes, Northern Great Plains and Intermountain West joint ventures. Casey currently is engaged in leadership efforts to initiate and coordinate protection of long-billed curlew populations and breeding habitat throughout western North America. Congratulations!

OSNA Audubon Riparian photoSaturday, June 7, 9 a.m. Guided hike explores Owen Sowerwine Natural Area

The Montana Wilderness Association is offering a free guided hike “Wings, Tails, Tracks and Trails” at Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, on the Stillwater River west of Kalispell. The moderate 3-mile hike will start at 9 a.m. at the nearby Montessori School parking lot on Willow Glen Drive. You will learn about and look for signs of migrating waterfowl, raptors, herons, woodpeckers, swans, mink, otter and more. For more information and to register go to or call Brian Baxter at (406) 291-2154.

5-14 bike&bird tour 016 (2)rdBike & Bird Tour a great success

Thirty six people on bikes joined this tour along Lower Valley and North Somers roads, stopping at numerous protected wetlands, riparian areas, and farm land that help birds and other wildlife thrive, while also helping sustain clean water and scenic views. Bruce Tannehill, bird expert with Flathead Audubon, provided insight into the birds that use these critical areas. The tour ended at the Somers Bay café, where a percentage of the lunches was donated to the Flathead Land Trust.

2014 5-3 Foys Bend Vol tree planting (18)rdMT Conservation Corps and Flathead Valley Community College volunteers help plant willows along the Flathead River at Foys Bend.

MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks is doing numerous restoration projects at their Foys Bend Fisheries Conservation Area south of Kalispell. FWP purchased this beautiful river property a few years ago and is now working to restore native plants along the river banks to slow down erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitat. Thank you to a great crew of volunteers and River to Lake Initiative partners who helped plant hundreds of native willow, dogwood, and chokecherry plants last Saturday! Click here to see photos of the event.

Bike&Bird Tour banner2

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.

4-29-14 Diamond B RanchSpring tree planting and river restoration project

Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners helped landowner with Spring tree planting projects to restore riparian habitat along the river! Contact Flathead River Steward Aaron Clausen to learn about planting and other volunteer opportunities. Phone: (406) 752-4242 extension 109. E-mail:

Foys Bend Earth Day Flyer 2014IMAGEJoin Flathead River to Lake partners planting willows on the banks of the Flathead River this Saturday, May 3, at 9 a.m!

Spend a day out by the Flathead River on a beautiful MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks property working with other volunteers to help plant willows and learn about this river restoration project.  Enjoy some Spring air and exercise!  Please contact Brandy at or 904-599-8571 for more information. To see the location on a map click here. To read about last year’s restoration planting at Foys Bend click here.


Flathead residents remember the 1964 flood when 10 to 14 inches of rain fell over the Continental Divide on June 7 and 8, raising river levels at Columbia Falls to 25.58 feet, far above the previous 19.7 feet record. “Fifty years after the water receded, the memories of the flood of 1964 are still vivid. For residents of a certain age in the Flathead Valley, those June days are something they will never forget.” To read the article click here.

P1050127Signs of spring are here as large flocks of ducks, geese, swans, and other migratory waterfowl arrive in the Flathead Valley’s wetlands. Over 26 people enjoyed an afternoon with bird experts looking at hundreds of ducks and other migratory birds which flock to the valley’s wetlands to feed and rest in the spring. Read more about this tour here: wetland birding tour.

News & Events

Read our latest River to Lake April News: Flathead Lake North Shore property protected • Conservation easement protects Smith Valley wetlands • Critical Lands – the place to see birds! • Spring Events: April 23, Flathead Land Trust Conservation Plan review;  May 3, Spring Tree Planting; Volunteer opportunities; May 17, Flathead Valley Bike and Bird Tour. • In the News: Flathead residents remember the 1964 flood.

North_shore_conservation_projectFWP-WormFlathead Lake North Shore property protected

MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently purchased 189 acres on the north shore of Flathead Lake. This project helps protect Flathead Lake’s water quality and critical lands and wetlands used by tens of thousands of migratory birds in the spring on their long journey from wintering grounds in Mexico to their breeding grounds in Canada. Click here to learn more about this project.

Wade_II_property_081913Smith Lake-2014Flathead Land Trust awarded grants to purchase a conservation easement in the Smith Valley

The Small North America Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant and a Traveler’s for Open Lands grant will help protect nearly 50 acres near Smith Lake, west of Kalispell. This project will fill in a puzzle piece of a block of conservation lands over 1,600 acres in size in the Smith Lake wetland complex that is used by tens of thousands of migratory birds. Read more..

Tundra_Swan_The bird guideSunday March 23, 9 a.m. – noon East Flathead Valley Early Bird Migration Field Trip

Join Flathead Audubon bird expert Craig Hohenberger Sunday morning around East Flathead Valley to watch waterfowl, eagles, raptors, and other early migrants. The tour will go to a wetland near Creston, along Riverside Road, Flathead River, and around Egan and Half-Moon Sloughs. This is the time of year to see hundreds of swans, ducks and other birds migrating through this area. Click here for more information


Saturday, March 22, 1 p.m. Smith Lake and West Valley Wetland Birds Tour (Saturday field trip full)

Join bird expert Dan Casey for an afternoon on Saturday March 22 from 1 to 4 pm to learn about local birds and migratory waterfowl around Smith Lake and the West Valley and the wetlands they depend on.  Click here for more information.

News & Events

Read our latest River to Lake January News: Welcome new Flathead River Steward • MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks acquires riparian property on the Flathead River • Kokanee Bend South conservation project benefits bull trout • Conservation Successes Updates • Welcome new Conservation District Assistant Conservationist. Find out about upcoming events.

2014 Flathead River Steward Welcome new Flathead River Steward

Aaron Clausen is joining the Flathead River to Lake Initiative as our new Flathead River Steward. Aaron is a Big Sky Watershed Corps (associated with AmeriCorps) member with a background in river ecology who will be helping initiative partners and interested landowners restore riparian areas along the Flathead River and the north shore of Flathead Lake. Welcome Aaron! Click here to read more.

Otter Island Fisheries Conservation Area, MT Fish Wildlife & ParksNew Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks property on the Flathead River

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks gained an additional 147-acre property along the Flathead River – a land transfer from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to the state agency.  The Otter Island Fisheries Conservation Area will be managed by MFWP for open space habitat and public recreation. It is adjacent to several protected areas including other MFWP properties and river access sites.  Click here to learn more about this project.


Groups Celebrate North Shore Land Protection, by Flathead Beacon staff, August 26, 2014. See Article.

A Final Puzzle Piece: Completing Montana’s Smith Lake Wetland Complex, Intermountain West Joint Venture Newsletter, by Hannah Ryan, June 2014. See Article.

When All Hell Came Down the Mountains, Flathead Living Magazine, by Justin Franz, March 28, 2014. See Article.

North Shore land deal completed, Bigfork Eagle, by Bigfork Eagle staff, March 6, 2014. See Article.

Click here to read Archived News from previous years.

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