For the second time this summer, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a land acquisition on Flathead Lake, this one for developing a state park.

In mid-July, we told you about FWP's proposal to purchase nearly 15 acres for a fishing access site at an undeveloped property one mile east of Dayton off U.S. Highway 93 along the west shore of Flathead Lake. The property contains 650 feet of shoreline that would provide public access for boating and non-boating recreational use, such as swimming, fishing, and picnicking. The comment period for that acquisition ended last week.

This new acquisition proposal involves much more acreage and more ambitious undertaking. In an effort to further promote conservation and public access along the north shore of Flathead Lake, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing to acquire 106 acres to the east of Somers for the creation of the new state park. Public input on the proposal comment deadline is Sept. 12, 2020.

This property, owned by the Sliter family, has been identified as a significant undeveloped portion of the north shore of Flathead Lake and would complement habitat protections already in place along the shore. This project is a rare chance to provide more public access to Flathead Lake, which currently has less than 20 public access points along all its miles of shoreline, all of which are heavily used by residents and tourists alike.

As we all know, Flathead Lake provides is a popular fishery, but its appeal extends to  boaters, including motorized and non-motorized watercraft, as well as shore-based activities such as picnicking, swimming, photography and wildlife viewing. It is no secret that public access to the lake and shoreline is in high demand.

A final appraisal is scheduled to occur next month. Funding would be provided by a pending Land and Water Conservation Fund grant and required matches from Parks Earned Revenue or General License Fund monies.

The public comment period for this draft EA will be accepted until 5 p.m., September 12, 2020, and can be mailed to: Somers Beach Acquisition EA; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; 490 N. Meridian Road; Kalispell, MT 59901 or sent by e-mail to: Stevie Burton at steve.burton@mt.gov.