Montana Public Radio

FWP One Step Closer To Big Arm State Park Land Purchase

Dec 3, 2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is one step closer to purchasing the land that makes up Big Arm State Park on Flathead Lake. Officials says the deal is critical to maintaining the important public access point on the lake. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation released an environmental assessment Tuesday outlining how much FWP would need to pay for a permanent easement for the land the park sits on.

DNRC currently leases the land to FWP. Those proceeds help pay for schools, but as the value of lakeshore property has increased, so too have the annual lease payments, which are legally required to be at market value.

Dave Landstrom with FWP says this assessment outlines two options for a one-time payment that would give the agency permanent control of the property.

“That fulfills DNRC’s mission of generating revenue for schools in Montana and it would also facilitate FWP then continuting to maintain that important recreation site on Flathead Lake for camping and boating and fishing,” Landstrom said.

Under the assessment, FWP could pay a little over $8 million for the current 218-acre parcel or $10.6 million for that land and another 23 acres. Earlier this year, the state Legislature appropriated $12 million for FWP to purchase the easement.

“And as you can see from the proposal there, we came in below that, significantly below that. So, that helps us out a great deal,” Landstrom said.

Public comment on the assessment is open through Jan. 3.