Water conservation

State Completes Purchase of Popular Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has finalized the purchase of 772 acres of unspoiled forest land along the Flathead River near Columbia Falls, which the state will now manage as critical habitat for fish and wildlife , protecting a range of species and preventing development along the scenic river corridor while allowing public access.

The state officially purchased the property on December 21, concluding the much-anticipated transaction with former landowner Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC), a subsidiary of Glencore, Inc. FWP will now manage the property as a management area of the wildlife of Bad Rock Canyon.

“CFAC is extremely pleased to see unanimous support for this project and we are delighted to be a partner in the project,” Cheryl Driscoll, US Corporate Affairs Manager for Glencore, Inc., said in a statement. “The Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area will preserve a part of Montana that residents, visitors and future generations can enjoy. I congratulate everyone who worked so diligently to make this a reality. The Flathead Land Trust and the FWP are to be commended for leading this collaborative effort.

The property is located just east of Columbia Falls and south of the Flathead River and is one of the largest remaining undeveloped waterfront properties in the Flathead Valley. It serves as a critical wintering area for elk, moose, and white-tailed deer, and provides important habitat connectivity for grizzly bears, bull trout and 43 other wildlife species identified as having need. unique conservation. Additionally, the property’s wetlands and riparian habitat help protect the water quality of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake.

“Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is grateful for the community support and the hard work of our partners to make this exciting project a reality,” said Jim Williams, FWP Regional Supervisor, who helped make the deal a reality. “Collaboration is the key to successful conservation. This new protected forest will benefit the entire watershed, wildlife and the public for generations to come.

The protected property will add to a 12,000-acre network of conserved land along 50 miles of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake below Columbia Falls, where community leaders have gathered broad support for the project.

“The City of Columbia Falls is delighted to have completed the purchase of the Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area. This area greatly enhances and gives the citizens of Columbia Falls and surrounding areas a wonderful opportunity to recreate and enjoy the pristine nature of this land and access to the beautiful Flathead River, right next to our community, ”according to one Columbia News Release Falls Mayor Don Barnhart and members of his city council.

The acquisition also ensures permanent public access to the property, which will include a limited hunting opportunity and a three-mile community trail built by Gateway to Glacier Trail, Inc. for use by hikers, bikers, bird watchers and others. However, since FWP Wildlife Management Areas are managed with conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat as a priority, the property will be closed to the public from December 2 to May 15 at noon of each year to protect the elk wintering area.

FWP partnered with the Flathead Land Trust to buy and hold the property two years ago, and CFAC entered into an option agreement with the partners allowing until the end of 2021 to raise funds and finalize the purchase.

With an estimated acquisition value set at $ 7.26 million, the purchase funding included $ 4 million from the US Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, which is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), as well as $ 2.5 million from Habitat Montana. , which uses big game license fees for habitat conservation. Flathead Land Trust was tasked with raising the remaining $ 590,000 with the help of funding partners, the Flathead Lakers. The majority of donations came from local individuals and organizations as well as major grants from Heart of the Rockies Initiative, The Keneda Fund, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, AGL Foundation, Cinnabar Foundation, Cross Charitable Foundation, Whitefish Community Foundation, Headwaters Montana, Montana Trout Unlimited, Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited, Flathead Wildlife, Flathead Audubon and Vital Ground Foundation. Large private donations have also been received from Dean Marsh, David and Chet Barclay, Bob and Betty Moore, Molly Miller and Mark Jungerman, Walter Rowntree and Laura Reynolds, George and Kimberly Ruhana, as well as an anonymous donor. More than 250 people came together to contribute financially to the project. “We have finally reached the finish line of what was just a dream two years ago,” Flathead Land Trust Executive Director Paul Travis said in a statement. “The extraordinary level of local support is really the reason why this essential block of land is now being conserved and in the hands of the public. Thank you to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, CFAC and our many other partners and donors for making sure this wild place is protected for this generation and future generations to enjoy.