$1 Million Grant Approved to Fund Conservation of Migratory Bird Habitat

(Flathead Valley, Montana) – Tens of thousands of migratory birds use the Flathead as a crucial feeding stopover in their epic journey from their wintering grounds in the southwestern United States to their breeding grounds in Canada. Flathead Lake is a huge resource for the migrating birds as it is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. However, the birds also depend on wetlands and agricultural lands near the lake and in the Flathead and Mission valleys to fuel their northward migration to breeding grounds. 

Flathead Land Trust and its partners recently received approval by the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to fund a $1 million grant proposal to conserve some of these important wetlands and agricultural lands. Five projects were proposed to conserve 525 acres of wetlands and associated uplands and restore 125 acres of wetland habitat used by migratory birds in the Flathead and Mission valleys. IWJV staff and NAWCA Council staff visited the area to evaluate these projects. This is the only grant in the IWJV region to be approved by NAWCA Council for FY2015-1 cycle. 

“These projects are the result of continued coordinated efforts to count and track migratory birds and identify their high use areas across the Flathead, Mission, and Swan valleys. We are excited that so many private landowners who take care of these important migratory bird habitats are willing to help conserve their lands,” said Gael Bissell of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
“Many partners and landowners helped us obtain NAWCA approval to fund the $1 million grant,” said Laura Katzman of Flathead Land Trust. “It takes a team to put together the complex grant application and meet the numerous grant requirements.”
Upon final approval by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and an approved Federal budget for 2015, the partners will implement these important migratory bird habitat conservation projects. The projects funded by this grant will continue the work of Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, a landscape-scale, collaborative effort to conserve critical lands along the north shore of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River.