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Crews break ground on Col. Falls fishing pond

November 15, 2018

Work has begun on a new community fishing pond at River’s Edge Park in Columbia Falls.

Crews broke ground on the project Oct. 29 and work is expected to continue through November. The new pond will offer a family-friendly, accessible fishing spot, and is expected to be completed by next summer. The project is the result of a collaborative community effort.

The city of Columbia Falls and the Flathead Land Trust received a $100,000 grant in 2017 from the LOR Foundation, based in Jackson, Wyoming, to work collaboratively to enhance livability and build upon the strengths that make Columbia Falls unique. The goal of the grant was to help the community develop a project that increases access to recreation, protects clean water and promotes the quality of life in Columbia Falls.

“The city is extremely grateful to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for its initial pursuit of a fishing pond in the Columbia Falls community and the partnership with the Flathead Land Trust for coordinating and funding the project,” Columbia Falls City Manager Susan Nicosia said. “The fishing pond will be a tremendous asset to the community and a great addition to River’s Edge Park. The recent completion of the Third Avenue East connector trail provides a short walking access to River’s Edge Park.”

A working group that includes members of the business community, nonprofits, Columbia Falls City Council and others organized to help decide the best use of the grant funds. The group agreed that a fishing pond surrounded by a walking trail would create an ideal amenity for families at the city’s largest park, River’s Edge, which spans more than 20 acres near the Flathead River.

“As the local, community-based land trust in the Flathead, connecting kids and their families to the outdoors through fishing at a new pond in River’s Edge Park is an exciting opportunity and something we’re very proud to be part of,” said Paul Travis, executive director of the Flathead Land Trust.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks committed to helping fund part of the project through the Bill Kamps Memorial Fund. The state agency plans to stock the pond annually with Westslope cutthroat trout, while also promoting outdoor education and fishing activities.

“There were many individuals and groups invested in bringing family fishing to Columbia Falls,” said Mike Hensler, Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 fisheries manager. “We hope and expect that when completed, this pond will provide an opportunity for youth and first-timers to start on a path to become lifelong anglers and learn about the diverse fisheries in Northwest Montana.”

The city of Columbia Falls is coordinating the project, led by Nicosia and Public Works Director Tyler Bradshaw.

Several local businesses have donated time, expertise and experience to the project, including Schellinger Construction, the excavator that is developing the pond; Hamilton Excavating, which is hauling fill from the project site; Sands Surveying has donated services and administration of permits; and Applied Water Consulting, which donated expertise and services to obtain several permits.

Visitors are asked to keep clear of all posted and fenced areas and be sure to keep pets leashed. They are also asked to yield to construction vehicles when entering and exiting the parking area.

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