River to Lake Initiative Partners Honored
The Flathead Lakers and other River to Lake Initiative partners were honored recently for their work protecting the clean water and healthy habitat upstream from Flathead Lake. The Montana Wetland Council presented the 2011 Montana Wetland Stewardship Award to the Flathead River to Lake Initiative on May 26 in Helena.
“The clean water and stunning beauty of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake are economic engines of northwestern Montana, generating over $1 billion in revenue for Montana” said Ken Siderius, a longtime Flathead Valley resident involved in the initiative. “They also contribute to our unique way of life in ways that cannot be measured in dollars alone.”
The Montana Wetland Council praised the initiative for outstanding work helping private landowners protect and restore critical wetlands along the main stem of the Flathead River and the north shore of Flathead Lake. Wetlands act as natural filters to protect water from runoff and are habitat hotspots for fish and wildlife.
The Flathead River to Lake Initiative includes local landowners, Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Lakers, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Flathead Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, Montana Land Reliance, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Flathead Conservation District, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Its mission is to help landowners conserve and restore farmlands and the wetlands, streamside and lakeshore areas that keep our water clean and lake beautiful, provide for abundant hunting and fishing opportunities.
“The Flathead Basin is one of the most productive and diverse river systems for fish and wildlife in Montana” said FWP biologist Gael Bissell. “By working together now, we can keep resources for future generations to use and enjoy as our valley grows and develops.”
Siderius and Bissell thanked the many generous partners and landowners who have protected and restored habitat along the river and north shore. In particular, several members of the Louden family were recognized for their recent project to conserve 1,088 acres along 3.7 miles of the Flathead River, including Church Slough.
The Flathead River to Lake Initiative has worked with local property owners to protect more than 5,000 acres of lands along the river and at the lake’s north shore, including over 1,000 acres of wetlands and 14 miles of the river banks.
Funders and information supporters: River to Lake Initiative accomplishments are only possible thanks to the support of numerous other people, organizations, and funders, including Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, U of M Flathead Lake Biological Station, Montana Natural Heritage Program, Trout Unlimited, Montana Wetlands Legacy, Montana Conservation Fund, Bonneville Power Administration, NRCS Farm & Ranchland Protection Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, North American Wetland Conservation Act grant program, Flathead County Planning and Zoning, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Intermountain West Joint Venture, Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Department of Transportation, Media Resources, and others.