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Dayton site proposed for new fishing access

by Daily Inter Lake
| July 11, 2020 1:00 AM

With the goal of increasing public access to Flathead Lake, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking approval to purchase nearly 15 acres of undeveloped land on the lake’s western shore for a new fishing access site.

The property is 1 mile east of Dayton off U.S. 93, according to a press release. 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.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has preliminary proposed development plans that would include access roads, parking areas, a boat ramp, dock, vault latrine, signage, boundary fencing and a host campsite. The proposed site would be open for day-use only.

Following the Statewide Fisheries Management Program and Guide, FWP continues to pursue opportunities to increase access on popular water bodies, such as Flathead Lake, where user numbers are increasing to levels above the capacity of existing sites. Currently, 89% of the shoreline of Flathead Lake, excluding islands, is in private ownership, meaning parcels such as this one are becoming increasingly rare. According to the press release, a new site would help ease pressure on other busy boat launches on Flathead Lake such as those in Lakeside and Bigfork. The proximity of the proposed site to Wild Horse Island also makes it a desirable launching point.

The current property owners have long been interested in selling the undeveloped land to a public agency for public access and conservation and are willing to sell below appraised value. The owners have been working with the Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation to sell the property to the nonprofit organization, which would bridge the sale in anticipation of FWP’s purchase of the property pending legislative and funding authorizations.

Recreational activity on Flathead Lake generates a considerable amount of economic activity in nearby communities as well, the press release states. According to Jan Stoddard of the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, Flathead Lake is one of Montana’s most important water recreation assets.

The proposal to purchase the property is out for public comment and can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s website. The public has until 5 p.m. on Aug. 9 to submit comments. Written input can be emailed to tpowell@mt.gov, or mailed to Mattson FAS/Property Acquisition, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 490 N. Meridian Rd, Kalispell, MT 59901. Or individuals can call 406-752-5501.