Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) has completed an environmental assessment (EA) for a proposal to purchase approximately 189 acres of farmland and wetlands located along the north shore of Flathead Lake about 4.5 miles east of the community of Somers. Funding for the project would be provided by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) through MFWP’s fisheries mitigation program to help offset impacts associated with the construction of Hungry Horse Dam. The landowner has agreed to sell this land to MFWP for $1.6 million, below its appraised market value of $1.73 million. If the sale is completed, BPA would retain a perpetual conservation easement on the property to ensure long-term protection of the acquisition. The primary purpose of the proposed land acquisition using BPA funding is to protect ground water, surface water, and wetlands on or near Flathead Lake. This will help improve or maintain the high water quality of Flathead Lake for benefits of aquatic life and fish and wildlife habitat. Other benefits of this project include protecting and managing this land to restore or improve natural riparian/wetland habitats, to continue annual crop production to benefit resident and migratory waterfowl, to improve and maintain habitat for other wildlife, and to provide opportunities for seasonal and compatible public recreation. The draft EA was out for a 30-day public review through August 31, 2013, and MFWP held an open house/public hearing on Tuesday, August 20, 2013. In reviewing all the public comment and other relevant information, and evaluating the environmental effects, it is recommended that MFWP pursue the acquisition of the North Shore WMA pending approval of the proposed action by the MFWP Commission and the Montana Land Board.
Gael Bissell, Wildlife Biologist, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 490 N Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT 59901, (406) 751-4580, firstname.lastname@example.org