Flathead Land Trust and its partners are celebrating an Oct. 6 event that is officially called the Grand Opening of West Valley Bird Viewing Area. Unofficially, it’s called the coolest northwest Montana sandhill crane habitat conservation project ever. FLT, together with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and Flathead Audubon, have scheduled the Oct. 6 ribbon cutting ceremony starting at 5:00 PM to give event participants a possible opportunity to watch the sandhills and other bird species land in and near the wetlands on their southern migratory routes (the birds are migrating, not the people). The West Valley project is a remarkable conservation achievement for FLT, project partners, project funders, and the Flathead Valley. The $1.4 million raised to fund the project came from a variety of sources, including local funders and the NRCS ALE Program. The 400 conserved acres includes a 45-acre wetland that is vital for area bird population density and diversity, and involves the only known staging area for sandhill crane migration in the Flathead Valley. The project also includes a public access and public education component. The official event invitation is attached to the MALT email, and because of limited space interested folks are encouraged to RSVP to FLT project leader Laura Katzman.