Conservation groups are closing the fundraising gap to buy 772 acres of land from Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. (CFAC) at the mouth of Bad Rock Canyon on the Flathead River, a move that would protect the precious plot of development and would provide its naturalness. resources with permanent protection.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), in conjunction with the Flathead Land Trust, has offered to purchase the wooded plot stretching 1.6 miles from the Flathead River near Columbia Falls. The property, which is highly developable and under increasing pressure from the rapidly growing city of Columbia Falls, would be owned and managed by FWP as a wildlife management area, while providing free access to public recreation in perpetuity.
Currently, the nonprofit Flathead Land Trust, in conjunction with the Flathead Lakers, has raised nearly $ 7 million of the $ 7.1 million needed to purchase the property from the Bad Rock Canyon Conservation Project.
Thanks to an option agreement with CFAC, the partners have until the end of the year to complete the transaction.
In March, three donors offered to match up to $ 100,000 of all donations raised through July 15 by the Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead Lakers. The two nonprofits announced this week that more than 100 community members have come together to support the project, and the challenge has been met.
In response to the success of the fundraiser, two new donors pledged to take on the $ 50,000 challenge.
To help the Flathead Land Trust meet its fundraising challenge and secure the matching funding, the organization encouraged its supporters to donate online at flatheadlandtrust.org or by sending a check to Flathead Land Trust, with a note indicating that the donation is for the conservation of Bad Rock Canyon. Project.
The land at the center of the project is owned by CFAC, a subsidiary of Glencore, a multinational that has maintained the plot as an open space accessible to the public for decades. The company has decided to sell the property, which is located just east of Columbia Falls south of the Flathead River and does not include the former aluminum plant, which is the site of an environmental cleanup designated by Superfund. The property serves as a winter range for elk, moose and white-tailed deer, and the proposed purchase would protect a vital travel corridor for bull trout and grizzly bear, both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It also offers the opportunity for young people and handicapped hunters to harvest elk and white-tailed deer just minutes from Columbia Falls. In recent years, a trail has been built on the land by Gateway to Glacier Trail, Inc., a local non-profit group that has granted a revocable license by CFAC to allow access for hikers, cyclists, bird watchers and others.