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State seeking public input after purchase of Somers Beach

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | October 9, 2021 12:00 AM

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Thursday it has completed the purchase of a 106-acre swath of land on the north shore of Flathead Lake. The Somers Beach property, which has become a popular spot for recreation under decades of private ownership, will remain open to the public as Montana's newest state park.

FWP has scheduled a public Zoom meeting for 6 p.m. on Oct. 21 to gather feedback on a draft environmental assessment for the site, which could one day feature amenities such as trails, picnic tables and hand-launch boat access.

The draft assessment can be found at fwp.mt.gov/news/public-notices, and a link to the Zoom meeting will be posted on FWP's Region 1 webpage. The agency will continue taking public comments through Nov. 6. Comments can be mailed to the agency's Kalispell office at 490 N. Meridian Road or emailed to Stevie Burton at stevie.burton@mt.gov.

FWP purchased the land for roughly $3 million after receiving more than $1.3 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Private donations that will help with long-term maintenance and operation of the park.

The land was previously owned by the Sliter family, and state officials say it's important to preserve because there are fewer than 20 public access points along Flathead Lake's 185 miles of shoreline, leading to overcrowding by locals and tourists. The Flathead Land Trust and the Montana State Parks Foundation assisted with the acquisition.

"For more than a decade, we have worked with the Sliter family with a shared goal to find a conservation outcome for this special property and expand much-needed outdoor recreation opportunities along the north shore of Flathead Lake," the land trust's Paul Travis said in a statement.

Assistant editor Chad Sokol may be reached at 406-758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com.