Land deal preserves Foy’s Bend property

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This aerial photo shows part of the 244-acre Foy’s Bend property that will be protected along the Flathead River.

A deal has been reached to protect 244 acres of land at Foy's Bend along the lower Flathead River.

The land purchase from the Ingham family was arranged by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Conservation Fund and the Flathead Land Trust.

The $2 million purchase was funded by the Bonneville Power Administration through its program for mitigating impacts from Hungry Horse Dam. The property will be owned and managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, with BPA retaining an easement on the property to ensure it is managed for long-term conservation purposes.

The property has nearly two miles of high-quality, riparian riverbank on the Foys Bend oxbow stretch of river southeast of Kalispell. It is one of a series of parcels along the lower Flathead River that have been protected either through conservation purchases or easements in recent years.

"Larger riverfront parcels with intact riparian forests are less common today and are especially important to conserve," said Joel Tohtz, fisheries mitigation program manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "This property has outstanding habitat values for both fish and wildlife. FWP will complete its management plan for habitat restoration and enhancement and public access this summer."

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is accepting public comments on a draft management plan for the land with some unique provisions. The state is proposing that public access to the land be limited to one party of four per day during hunting season and most of the year, with access entirely restricted during bird nesting season, from January through April.

The draft plan is available under "public notices" on the agency's Web site (http://fwp.mt.gov) and comments are due by Oct. 9.

The Flathead Land Trust was instrumental in arranging the purchase with the Inghams, who wanted to see the land protected.

"We are pleased to have provided the local connections to jump-start this great conservation project through our strong ties to the Ingham family," said Marilyn Wood, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust.

"This project represents another successful collaboration under the River to Lake Initiative - an effort to protect critical habitat along the Flathead River and north shore of the Flathead Lake, where landowners, conservation organizations and agencies find ways to protect our clean water, our wildlife and fish habitat and recreational opportunities through voluntary agreements and fair-market financial incentives."

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