In lieu of the popular Bike and Bird tour around Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area this spring – led by Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Audubon, and other Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners – join us in a quick virtual tour of this beautiful place to inspire you to visit, either on your own or later this summer with us, as we celebrate the addition of 257 acres of mostly wetlands to the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area which occurred last September.
The sounds of calling and singing birds is deafening during spring and fall migrations as the waterfowl, shorebirds, swans, and tens of thousands of migratory birds settle among the bulrush, cattail, and reed canary grass to eat, rest, or nest at the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area filling every inch of open water. Migratory birds stop here to refuel in the spring and fall along their long migration journeys – either north to nest or south to their wintering areas.
Smith Lake is located west of Kalispell, in northwest Montana. Ashley Creek flows through it, and in the spring the land around it fills with water providing an important refueling stop for tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl and other birds during their epic migrations.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently purchased the property with support from the Flathead Land Trust and The Conservation Fund. This was the Flathead Land Trust’s fifth conservation project in ten years expanding conservation around the Smith Lake wetland complex – one of the largest and most productive wetland complexes in the Flathead.
Over the years, conservation efforts have helped protected almost 3,000 acres of wetlands and surrounding uplands with key bird habitat – including the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area and several conservation easements on private lands held by the Flathead Land Trust, the Montana Land Reliance, and with the support of various Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners.
Although Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area is closed to the public from March 1st to July 15, during important nesting time for birds, people can still bike around it and stop to watch and listen to the birds.
Read more about the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area and conservation efforts to protect this beautiful gem in the Flathead Valley: