New easements secure local bird habitat

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TUNDRA SWANS take flight. (Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News)

Every March, tundra swans and northern pintails pass through Northwest Montana as they migrate north.

Both bird species need ice-free water for rest during their journey. That’s been rare during the birds’ last few transits through the Flathead Valley, but one reliable spot has been a patch of Flathead Lake’s North Shore owned by David and Linda Kurfess.

A new conservation easement will protect this 45-acre area from future development, securing a refuge not only for the tundra swans and pintails, but also for other migrating waterbirds and 229 species of birds that make the area their year-round home.

The Flathead Land Trust purchased the easement for an undisclosed amount. In a press release, the group said that “The project helps protect a rare gem unmatched anywhere else in the western United States.”

This project is part of a larger Land Trust effort, the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, to protect land tracts along the region’s waterways. This includes 542 acres on Flathead Lake’s North Shore, and 5,000 acres along the Flathead River.

Separately, on Thursday the Land Trust finalized the transfer of 328 acres of easements off West Valley Drive near Kalispell. As the Daily Inter Lake reported in March, this project will cover a wetland used by migrating sandhill cranes.

For more information about these efforts, visit www.flatheadlandtrust.org.

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