by Kay Mitchell

Sandhill Crane – Photo Credit: Dick Walker

The Flathead Land Trust has met its goal in raising 100% of the required $150,000 non-federal match of the $1.4 million project that will permanently protect the West Valley Pond site. The Pond and surrounding farmland provide rich habitat for a very large variety of birds and other wildlife that we all love to watch and photograph. Moreover, the sandhill cranes who stage there preparing for fall migration are favorites of birders of all ages. Flathead Audubon pledged $10,000 to the project and, with an important matching pledge from an anonymous donor, our $10,000 has become a grant of $15,000 to Flathead Land Trust!

In addition to the landmark financial goal being met, on September 5 the county Board of Adjustment officially declined to allow two 325-foot lighted radio towers to be erected in a West Valley location very near the West Valley Ponds site. Several Flathead Audubon members presented scientific information that showed dangers to birds from such towers. Because of the official decision, the birds of West Valley can continue to fly and migrate free from these hazards.

Flathead Audubon members and our chapter as a whole have shown major support for the West Valley Ponds project. Right now is a prime time to see sometimes hundreds of sandhills. Why not take a ride out to West Valley and enjoy some tremendous birding?