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Flathead Lake islands to see change to recreational opportunities

Bird island fire .jpg
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 12:25:05-05

KALISPELL — Back in August of 2020 a fire started on Bird Island, a popular recreation area on Flathead Lake.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined at this time, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) officials believe it was most likely human-caused.

Now close to 18 months later, FWP officials have finalized a plan to improve habitat conservation on Flathead Lake islands while still allowing recreational opportunities.

“Human waste issues with toilet paper all over the place, campfires that weren’t getting properly put out so, this is a way to try to reign some of that in while still offering some recreational opportunity on the islands,” FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish told MTN News.

Come this spring, construction of designated campsites will begin on Bird and Cedar Island on Flathead Lake. It's a project that’s been in the works since 2009 when a plan was developed to better protect wildlife habitat on these islands.

“A committee of stakeholders, citizen stakeholder's kind of crafted this plan but a lot of things in that plan were never implemented and now that recreational use of those islands has really grown, we’re starting to want to implement what that planning committee outlined for us,” added Tabish.

Tabish said Bird and Cedar Island will now have first-come, first-serve designated campsites and centrally located composting toilets. Camping will not be permitted on Douglas and Goose Islands.

“In the past it was just wide open to camping and anybody could kind of camp wherever on those islands and so these plans are trying to restrict and limit recreational use on these islands but also balancing public access and recreational opportunities,” said Tabish.

Tabish said signage and information kiosks will be developed on all four islands informing visitors of the do’s and dont's on the island including no campfires. He said all day-use and camping will be prohibited on Bird, Douglas and Goose islands during waterfowl nesting season from March 1- July 15.