Thursday, May 06, 2021

Family’s conservation legacy grows

| February 18, 2021 12:00 AM

Last week longtime Whitefish residents John and Anne Collins announced they had finalized a conservation easement that permanently protects 672 acres along Whitefish Lake, including a massive 1.2 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

The forested land hugging Lazy Bay abuts a swath of Montana State School Trust Land.

Montana Land Reliance’s Mark Schiltz hit the target when he described the deal as one of the most important easements in the valley. Given the explosive growth taking place in the valley, “this couldn’t happen at a more important time,” he commented.

The conservation easement not only protects the land from future development, but it will help ensure the lake’s water quality stays pristine and keeps intact important fish and wildlife habitat.

It should be noted that in the early 2000s the Collins also placed their 480-acre property in the North Fork in a conservation easement.

The Flathead Valley certainly owes a tip of the hat to John and Anne for their long-term vision to make this corner of Montana a better place to live, work and play, for generations to come.

The city of Kalispell has come up with an innovative plan to build a stormwater detention facility that will double as a recreational facility. This idea makes a lot of sense, since there’s a growing need for more sports fields and stormwater facilities are used only seasonally and infrequently.

It’s encouraging to see this kind of creative thinking. Kalispell Public Works Director Susie Turner recently gave the City Council an overview of the West Area Stormwater Project aimed at mitigating flooding and enabling further development on the city’s northwest side.

“We recognized a large reserve area is required to support large storm events, however, these events are seasonal and infrequent, which affords the city to use the area as park land outside of large storm events,” Turner told the council.

Kalispell Parks and Rec is now working alongside Public Works to create the dual-use facility. It’s a great example of city departments collaborating to do what’s best for its residents and getting the most bang for their bucks from this facility.