Kalispell, MT (September 30, 2009) - Today, The Conservation Fund and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) announced the protection of 244 acres along the main stem of the Flathead River, just north of Flathead Lake. Bonneville Power Administration provided funding for the transaction.
The transaction preserves nearly two miles of high quality, intact cottonwood/riparian riverbank habitat important for federally-protected bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Combined with adjacent protected lands, this property helps maintain the integrity of this portion of the Flathead River and benefits other wildlife such as migratory birds, pheasants, bald eagles, osprey, black bears and whitetail deer.
"Larger riverfront parcels with intact riparian forests are less common today and are especially important to conserve," said Joel Tohtz, fisheries mitigation program manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "This property has outstanding habitat values for both fish and wildlife. FWP will complete its management plan for habitat restoration and enhancement and public access this summer."
Funding for the purchase came from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) as part of its contribution to the Hungry Horse Dam Mitigation Program. BPA markets power generated by Hungry Horse Dam and other hydroelectric projects in the region. The agency dedicates a large share of revenues from regional ratepayers to compensate for the loss of fish habitat and other impacts caused by the construction and operation of Hungry Horse Dam.
"We’re grateful to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Flathead Land Trust and the landowners for their commitment to preserving the area within the River to Lake Initiative, with its spectacular scenery and rich resources," said Gates Watson, director of The Conservation Fund’s Montana office. "Through a cooperative agreement with FWP and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, BPA provided much needed support at a time when funding for conservation is stretched thin."
The Conservation Fund facilitated the purchase between FWP and the landowners, the Ingham family. The Flathead Land Trust was instrumental in getting the deal started by working with the Ingham family, who wanted to see their land protected.
"We are pleased to have provided the local connections to jumpstart this great conservation project through our strong ties to the Ingham family," said Marilyn Wood, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust. "This project represents another successful collaboration under the River to Lake Initiative - an effort to protect critical habitat along the Flathead River and north shore of Flathead Lake - where landowners, conservation organizations and agencies find ways to protect our clean water, our wildlife and fish habitat and our recreational opportunities through voluntary agreements and fair-market financial incentives."
Flathead River and Flathead Lake provide habitat for threatened native fish, high diversity of avian species, and incredible array of terrestrial species. Flathead Lake is known as one of the cleanest lakes of its size in the world and contributes an estimated $10 billion to the local economy. The river and its associated wetlands have been identified as critical habitat by the Flathead Lakers Critical Lands project, the Nature Conservancy’s Northern Rockies Ecoregional plan, and the International Joint Venture Program as an "Important Bird Area."
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About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund is dedicated to advancing America’s land and water legacy. With our partners, we conserve land, train leaders and invest in conservation at home. Since 1985, we have helped protect more than 6 million acres, sustaining wild havens, working lands and vibrant communities. We’re a top-ranked conservation organization, effective and efficient. www.conservationfund.org <http://www.conservationfund.org>