Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Community-wide matching challenge begins

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

News from the Flathead Lakers

FLATHEAD LAKE — Building on momentum and enthusiasm for preserving Owen Sowerwine, a Challenge Match Campaign will take place now through July 31. This fundraising push looks to the wider community to help close the gap for the remaining funding needed to purchase a conservation easement on the over 400-acre ecological and community gem just east of Kalispell. Several donors have pledged a match of $100,000 to all new donations or pledges received by Flathead Land Trust or its partners between April 1 and July 31. They are grateful to Molly Miller and Mark Jungerman, the Bibler Foundation and Alan and Sallie Gratch, as well as to donors of Flathead Audubon and Flathead Lakers for this incentive.

Over half of the needed funding has been secured through grants and individual donations already. Project partners must raise an additional approximate $330,000 by the end of September to fund the purchase of the conservation easement. They need your support now to match funds offered by their Matching Challenge donors. Community support is critical to show foundation donors that the community is behind this project. 

Carol Bibler and Debbie Funk, who grew up exploring the area, are passionate about its protection. They stated that right now, we all have a fleeting opportunity to ensure that this area will remain natural forever. If you want your children, grandchildren, and their children to experience the magical place that we did, and if you want this precious wildlife habitat to remain undisturbed, please join us in supporting the fundraising efforts to preserve the Owen Sowerwine.

Owen Sowerwine is an ecological and community jewel lying just east of Kalispell. Nestled between conserved lands, it is in the heart of one of the most complex sections of the Flathead River. Forested riparian corridors, islands, sloughs, and wetlands provide rich habitats. Bordering a mile of the Stillwater River, over a mile of the Flathead River, and at least 1.3 miles of braided channels connecting the two rivers, it is a haven for birds, fish, and wildlife, including federally listed grizzly bear and bull trout. It has been designated an Important Bird Area critical for the conservation of birds by Montana Audubon, and at least 168 species of birds have been documented within its borders. Conservation of this area will not only safeguard these living systems, but also protects water quality of the Stillwater River, the Flathead River and Flathead Lake, as well as secures public access.

This property will expand protection of critical lands along the Flathead River corridor, adding to a network of over 12,000 acres of conserved wetlands, riparian forests, fish and wildlife habitat, farmlands and recreational areas along the Flathead River.

A purchased conservation easement is a brilliant solution for generating revenue from the Owen Sowerwine land for Montana K-12 public schools. As State School Trust land administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), Owen Sowerwine is required to do so. Thus, its future as natural habitat with public access is not secure. In order to generate revenue, Owen Sowerwine could be used for cabin sites, agriculture, grazing, timber sales, or residential or commercial uses. A purchased conservation easement would protect the property’s vital habitat, ensure public access, and provide revenue for Montana schools. 

To learn firsthand about the exceptional ecological features of Owen Sowerwine, several walking, birding and kayak tours of the property will be offered from May 7 to July 29. Contact Flathead Land Trust at for more information and to sign up for tours.

Donations can be made at,,, or by writing a check to Flathead Land Trust, PO Box 1913, Kalispell, MT 59903. Indicate that your donation is for Owen Sowerwine. 

For more information visit:

Sponsored by: