Dean Robbins, a 4th generation descendant from settlers living along Wiley Slough, donated a conservation easement to the Flathead Land Trust of 26 acres, stretching over 982 feet of shoreline, to “pass the legacy of open space for wildlife and farming on to future generations.”
The conservation easement on Wiley Slough (also known as Weaver Slough) is located north of Somers, between Flathead Lake and the Flathead River. It is adjacent to another 1,235 acres of previously protected private lands, enhancing protection of important conservation values.
Wiley Slough is one of six naturally created oxbow lakes associated with the previous course of the Flathead River. Oxbow wetlands are crescent-shaped lakes lying along a winding river. The oxbow is created over time as erosion and deposits of soils change the river’s course, cutting off the oxbow from the river’s channel.
Robbins is able to appreciate the numerous wildlife and migratory birds that use Wiley Slough through a blind hanging off the shoreline, and built with the assistance of Flathead Audubon and Flathead Land Trust volunteers.
An intact strip of riparian and wetland vegetation around the slough provides important nesting habitat for birds, and minimizes disturbances during critical migration periods. The open space provided by the farms also supports valuable wildlife habitat.
Weaver Slough is an important site for mallards, pintails, ruddy ducks, shovelers, pileated woodpeckers, kingfishers, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, Canada geese, and bald eagles. It supports abundant populations of beavers, muskrats, river otters, and mink, and provides year-round habitat for ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, Hungarian partridges, and white-tailed deer.
Waterfowl move between the wetland sloughs and Flathead Lake for food and nesting cover. The riparian and wetlands associated with the sloughs provide critical habitat for river otter and other wildlife that travel along the river.
Read story in the Daily Inter Lake.