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Owen Sowerwine Natural Area permanently protected

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | March 2, 2024 12:00 AM

The Owen Sowerwine Natural Area is now permanently protected after years of work to conserve it.

“This is amazing in that it is such a great resource for not only birds, fish and wildlife, but also for the people of Kalispell,” said Laura Katzman, a land protection specialist with the Flathead Land Trust.

As of this week, Flathead Land Trust officially holds a conservation easement on the property after years of collaboration between the land trust, Flathead Audubon Society, Flathead Lakers and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. 

Owen Sowerwine Natural Area is a 442-acre tract of land just half a mile east of Kalispell. It is a crucial parcel of riparian land, known for its bird population and designated as an Important Bird Area by Montana Audubon. 

“The Owen Sowerwine project has been such a collaborative success — so many deserve so much credit in gaining permanent protection for this special place,” said Katzman. “We cannot thank our partners and supporters and all of the individuals and organizations that have contributed to this exciting culmination of years of work to sustain this natural haven for birds, fish and wildlife, and community gem in perpetuity.”

Named after Flathead conservationist Owen Sowerwine, the parcel of land is State School Trust 

Land administered through the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, meaning that its purpose is to generate revenue for schools in Montana.

Funding the project was an act of community dedication and involvement, Katzman said. The easement was secured for $970,000 through “generous donors” and “tireless efforts,” according to a press release. 

The money will be invested in the State School Trust Fund, supporting education for years to come, the land trust said. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we received from over 300 individuals in our communities that gave to Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Audubon Society and Flathead Lakers,” said Paul Travis, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust, in a statement. 

More about this project and for a full list of donors can be found at https://www.flatheadlandtrust.org.  To learn more about visiting Owen Sowerwine, explore https://flatheadaudubon.org/conserve/owen-sowerwine/. 

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.