Bluebird Nesting Boxes


18 Members of FWI got together the evening of January 25 to assemble 324 Bluebird Nesting Boxes. These were constructed from parts made over the previous month by ten FWI members: Bill Boehme, Tony Anderson, Brett Mitchell, Geo Johnson, Mike Dee, Scott Johnson, Jim Cross, Bill Matthews, Jim Vashro, & Jon VanDort. In addition to the “parts makers,” participants in the “Build Night” included: Don Peterson, Larry Rattray, Norm Brewer, Mike Wood, Sarah Yerkes, Kathy Fraser, Kylie Mercer & Mike Valler. Many thanks to Mike Valler for guiding the entire project.

These nesting boxes will be sold at a variety of Flathead Valley outlets in time to greet returning Western & Mountain Bluebirds when they arrive with the spring. Among them are Murdochs (Kalispell & Columbia Falls) & CENEX in Kalispell. Other potential retail outlets are being investigated.

Income from these nesting boxes is the major source of funds for FWI. Dollars are used to support habitat & access improvement projects in the Flathead Valley area.

Bluebird Nesting Boxes


Corporate Timberlands—Plum Creek Timberlands had owned over 800,000 acres in northwest Montana for decades, allowing free public access for hunting, fishing and camping. Three years ago, Weyerhauser purchased those lands, still allowing public access but the writing was on the wall. Not quite a year ago, Southern Pines Plantation purchased 630,000 acres. While still allowing public access, SPP is more of a timber realty company, confirmed by the announcement late January that SPP had sold 417,000 acres to two buyers. Green Diamond Resources purchased 291,000 acres including the Thompson-Fisher drainages. Green Diamond is family owned business and is in the timber business. Green Diamond is negotiating to allow continued public access and looking at conservation easements (CE) for a revenue stream. Late January Robyn and Mark Jones of Texas purchased 126,000 acres of SPP stretching from Lake Mary Ronan to McGregor Lake, including Hubbart Reservoir and Red Gate Road. At this point Flathead Ridge Ranch will remain open to the public but it is incumbent on all of us to recreate respectfully. FWP, USFWS, and Trust For Public Lands are trying to secure conservation easements on some of the remaining SPP lands including property around Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. The first CE was completed in December on 7,000 acres immediately south of Lost Trail. The site, known as Dredger Ridge, more than doubles the effectiveness of Lost Trail plus it offers walk-in hunting. FWI strongly supported this CE and hope there are more in the future.

Bad Rock —WMA Glencore is the parent company for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC). The CFAC plant site included about 800 acres across the Flathead River. About 10 years ago FWP negotiated a Block Management Agreement with Glencore to allow hunting by youth and hunters with disabilities by reservation. Glencore has now offered the land for sale. The Flathead Land Trust has taken the lead in raising the $6.2 million purchase price. FWP would assume ownership as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). FLT has about 1-1/2 years to raise the remaining $500,000 in non-federal matching funds. Bad Rock is essentially undisturbed property that sustains elk, deer, grizzly bears, countless waterfowl and birds. The property offers 1.6 miles of river frontage, 80 acres of wetlands and a spring creek. Bad Rock is a migratory corridor connecting the Swan Mountains with the North Fork. Purchase would preserve wildlife habitat and provide public access. The Flathead Wildlife Board voted to donate $2500 towards the purchase in memory of Scott Johnson and Tim Dilworth. Hearing that, FWI Life member Bob Cole donated an additional $300 towards Bad Rock WMA. Read more about Bad Rock WMA at and consider supporting this outstanding project. Three generous donors have offered to match up to $100,000 donated by July 15.

Danford Reed’s Slough—is another Flathead Land Trust project on North Somers Road just south of Lower Valley Meats. This conservation easement will protect this important wetland as well as provide a public viewing area usable by the public and school groups. This ties in to about 1300 protected acres nearby. Flathead Wildlife donated $250 to help develop the viewing area.