July 17, 2020
The Montana Chapter of BHA
PO Box 9257
Missoula, MT 59807
Tony Powell, Region 1 FAS Manager
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
490 N. Meridian road
Kalispell, MT 59901
RE: Matson FAS/Property Acquisition
Dear Mr. Powell:
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a grassroot conservation organization with roughly 3,000 dues-paying members, would like to submit these comments in support of the proposed fishing access site and property acquisition along Flathead Lake’s west shore.
Flathead lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi river, provides important habitat for threatened species such as common loons and bull trout. In addition to offering a vibrant fishery consisting of species of other native and introduced fishes, the lake is home to a large array of resident and migratory birds and waterfowl.
The lake also serves as a vital economic driver for the Flathead Valley and communities surrounding the lake. The outdoor economy continues to be one of the largest sources of income for the state of Montana, providing more than $7 billion in 2019 alone. Many of the roughly 95,000 nearby residents rely on access to the lake for recreational uses such as boating, fishing, hiking, camping and picnicking, as well as benefiting from visitor spending.
As the Flathead Valley continues to grow in population, coupled with increasing tourism to the area, and a continually developing private shoreline, providing public access to the lake is increasingly critical. The addition of a new fishing access site would help relieve pressure and crowding on existing access points on a lake that sees more than 40,000 angler days per year.
The Montana Chapter of BHA wishes to thank the landowners and Montana FWP for their commitment to ensuring future public access to one of the gems in the Crown of the Continent, and we fully support the acquisition of the new fishing access site.
Aaron Agosto - Montana BHA member - Bigfork, MT
Molly Elliott - Montana BHA Flathead Regional board member – Columbia Falls, MT