KALISPELL — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) recently finalized the purchase of 772 acres of intact forestland along the Flathead River from the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company.
FWP will manage the property which is now known as the Bad Rock Canyon Wildlife Management Area.
The purpose is to safeguard critical wildlife habitat while allowing public access to the property just east of Columbia Falls. It's one of the Flathead Valley’s largest remaining undeveloped riverfront properties, according to FWP.
The land also serves as critical winter range for elk, moose and white-tailed deer, and provides important habitat connectivity for grizzly bears, bull trout and 43 species of greatest conservation need.
In addition, the wetlands and quality riparian habitat on the property help safeguard the healthy function and water quality of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake. The protected property will add to a 12,000-acre network of conserved land along 50 miles of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake downstream of Columbia Falls.
The acquisition means there will be permanent public access to the property, which will include a limited opportunity for hunting and a three mile community trail constructed by Gateway to Glacier Trail for use by hikers, bikers, birdwatchers and others, according to FWP.
FWP partnered with the Flathead Land Trust on the deal.