FWP plans Flathead Lake wildlife viewing area

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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is moving forward with the development of a public wildlife viewing area overlooking the North Shore Wildlife Management Area southeast of Kalispell.

The new viewing area will extend 5 feet high and cover 256 square feet on a gravel platform. The platform will meet the grade and dimensional standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The proposal was released for a 14-day public comment period on May 30. FWP received three responses to the proposal, and the comments were all positive and supported the public viewing area. One response offered suggestions to mitigate wildlife disturbance. Fencing and some vegetative screening will help mitigate those potential disturbances.

“Noting and including the responses to public comments, FWP believes the completion of this project will help accommodate the increasing demands for safe and easily accessible wildlife viewing opportunities for all ages in the Kalispell area and allow FWP to foster interest and involvement in the resources we manage,” Jim Williams, FWP Region 1 supervisor, said in the project decision notice posted on FWP’s website.

The project is slated for completion this summer. To read the project’s environmental assessment, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/decisionNotices.

FWP owns and manages the North Shore Wildlife Management Area, which is about 7 miles southeast of Kalispell and just north of Flathead Lake. The North Shore area is a designated Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. It serves as a critical stopover habitat for migratory birds and nesting habitat for spring and summer breeding birds.

The diversity of birds is extraordinary with more than 220 bird species observed in the area. The unit abuts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1,887-acre Flathead Lake North Shore Waterfowl Production Area, and together they protect the lake’s longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline and are part of the Audubon-designated Flathead Lake Important Bird Area.

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