An exciting collaborative conservation project involving three MALT members has been proposed for the Bigfork area that would create four miles of new community trails and 236 acres of forest conservation and open lands.
An article in the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake reported The Trust for Public Land, Flathead Land Trust and The Montana Land Reliance announced their plans for the property on the flanks of Swan Hill, which was once slated for development of 17 new residential lots.
The project is possible thanks to Alan and Cindy Horn, who donated the property in December 2020. The land is currently owned by the Trust for Public Land. Eventually, ownership will be transferred to the Flathead Land Trust, with the Montana Land Reliance holding a conservation easement. The proposed trail would be accessible through the Bigfork Stage Road about a half-mile from town.
The Daily Inter Lake article contained some excellent quotes from the land trusts involved in the project:
Lucas Cain, of The Trust for Public Land, said the project “will also allow for continued forest health management to reduce the risk of wildfire threats which have become so prevalent in our region.”
“We look forward to engaging with the community as we work towards providing much-needed front-country recreation on this property that otherwise could have been lost to subdivision and development,” said Paul Travis, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust.
“We have many wonderful memories of our time in Bigfork and the Flathead Valley and are very pleased to have been able to contribute this beautiful property to the community,” the Horns said in a statement.
The project is in its infancy, with many steps—community involvement, planning and design, fundraising and more—will be needed before project completion.
Earlier, in 2017, the Horns donated a 1,100-acre conservation easement held by Flathead Land Trust.