Monday, June 05, 2023

State wildlife commission to consider Flathead River land exchange

by Daily Inter Lake
| March 29, 2023 12:00 AM

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is collecting public comment on a proposed land exchange as part of a bridge replacement project on the Flathead River.

Sportsman’s Bridge on Montana 82 spans the Flathead River near Bigfork. A fishing access site is located on the river’s east bank just south of the bridge.

In 2009, the Montana Department of Transportation nominated the 686 foot long bridge as a rehabilitation or replacement project. The department now intends to replace the existing bridge with a 706 foot long bridge.

The project requires a wider right of way. The transportation agency is requesting that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks grant them a narrow strip of land — either in fee or in easement — of around 1.5 acres along the north end of the fishing access site, which is next to the existing right of way.

The state wildlife agency says a wider right of way would eliminate the existing fishing access site. Subsequently, the transportation department intends to reconstruct the fishing site, obtain an easement in Montana Fish, Wildlife Parks’ name from a nearby homeowners association, and develop a new access road and low water boat launch.

More information about the project is available on a transportation department website at The state wildlife agency is currently conducting a MEPA process — through the Montana Environmental Policy Act — to assess the proposed action.

The wildlife agency is asking the commission to approve the transfer of the 1.5 acres of department land. In return, the agency would receive an upgraded fishing access site, including an easement for permanent access to the site, officials said.

The commission is scheduled to review the proposal at its April 18 meeting.

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