Owen Sowerwine Visitor Resources

Owen Sowerwine Brochure

Download brochure here. A print copy is also available at OS entrances.

Owen Sowerwine Bird List

Owen Sowerwine Bird List

Trail map for the Mainland area (there are no trails in other parts of OS)

Schematic Trail Map

Aerial Trail Map

Accessible Trail

The Owen Sowerwine Accessibility Project was a collaborative effort. In May 2011, the 10 members of the Flathead Audubon Owen Sowerwine Committee researched the criteria for outdoor accessibility trails, and with assistance by a Flathead Forest trail designer, made a site-specific plan. Committee member Lewis Young designed the wheelchair accessible gate.

During the Fall Workday held in October 2011, volunteers removed brush to open up the existing Main Trail, cleared the entrance to accommodate the gate, and added a switchback to one spot to reduce the grade. Volunteers also cleared a space for a new accessible viewing area. Then in spring 2012, the trail and viewing area were constructed by Montana Made Trails, owned and operated by Darren Pfeifle, with assistance by Audubon volunteers Richard Kuhl, Susannah Casey, Neal Brown, Rod McIver, Lewis Young, and Brent Mitchell.

Donations and financial assistance came from: Flathead Electric Round-up-for-Safety, LHC Inc., Sliters Lumber and Building Supply, Murdoch’s Farm and Ranch Supply, and Midway Rental. The Flathead County Commissioners endorsed the permit and encouraged the project, and the County Road Department provided advice.

A grand opening was held June 15, 2012, when about 40 people gathered to celebrate. The trail is located at the terminus of Treasure Lane. It is about 700 feet long and leads through the shady vegetation into an open area, where the viewing area overlooks the banks of an overflow wetland off the Stillwater River.

IBA Designation

“The Important Bird Area (IBA) is international in scope, administered by Bird Life International across much of the globe, often through other partner groups. The National Audubon Society took the lead for implementing the program in the United States in 1995. Montana Audubon has administered the program here in our state. The central goals of the IBA program are to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical to the conservation of birds. Although IBA designations are not legally binding, they can help to focus attention on the habitat needs of bird species of concern, and help lead to habitat acquisition, conservation easements, or voluntary habitat management activities.” (Dan Casey, March, 2022 Pileated Post)

In order to receive the IBA designation, an area must meet one or more of the following criteria: be important to endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species; be important to moderate to high-priority Watch List species; contain important habitat that supports species that need unique or threatened habitat; be an area where exceptional numbers or diversity of birds concentrates; be an area important to long-term research and/or monitoring. In 2003, the Owen Sowerwine area was nominated by Flathead Audubon for designation as an IBA, and after being found to meet several of the criteria, was designated as such by Montana Audubon. Owen Sowerwine is just one of 42 IBA sites that Montana Audubon has approved for designation in our state.

Outdoor Recreation Expectations (OREOS)

Outdoor Recreation Expectations for Owen Sowerwine (OREOS)

  • Our expectation and goal for people and groups that visit Owen Sowerwine is for them to RECREATE RESPECTFULLY, and to LEAVE NO TRACE.
    • Be respectful and discreet rather than disruptive
    • Leave the area at least as good as it was when you enjoyed it
    • Be considerate of the wildlife and plant life
    • Be considerate of the others who are visiting
    • Don’t litter, don’t destroy, and don’t move or collect things
    • Make use of the durable surface of trails to avoid damage to fragile soils and vegetation
    • YOU ARE HERE AS A SPECIAL GUEST. Why are the birds, bugs, plants, trees, fish, deer, squirrels, and mice here? Because this is where they find food and shelter and a place to sprout, birth, or hatch their young. IT’S THEIR HOME. We hope you enjoy your visit.
  • SEE AND BE PART OF THE WEB OF LIFE. It’s all around you.  Owen Sowerwine is a messy place and we like to leave it that way so the web of life can do its thing. Logs and pieces of bark are full of bugs and microorganisms that help break down the wood and create new soil. Rocks are sheltering bugs and critters. Minimize disruption of these because it’s all part of the WEB OF LIFE
  • Different ways of sensing can help you to have greater awareness, to discover how you connect to this place called Owen Sowerwine, and to develop your own SENSE OF PLACE while visiting. Be HERE, be NOW, be AWARE, be OPEN, be READY.
  • The area in Owen Sowerwine has a story to tell – ARE YOU LISTENING? Ecologist Aldo Leopold believed that learning to read the natural world builds an ethic and aesthetic that can guide and benefit a person in all aspects of their live. He stated “I am trying to teach you that this alphabet of “natural objects” (soils and rivers, birds and beasts) spells out a story…..”. Can you read that story? Can you make an alphabet of “natural objects” to write your story about your visit?
  • GET CONNECTED TO NATURE! You will see, hear, sense, and learn more if you tune in and activate all of your senses. Take the time to take a closer look. See the big things, see the little things, hear both the faint and the bold sounds, smell the smells, and allow yourself to wonder and ask why and how. The wild things will REWARD you if you do!!
  • FEEL GRATITUDE. We are grateful that you find the Owen Sowerwine area to be a place you visit and enjoy. We are grateful that you visit with respect for the natural objects, plants, birds, and animals. What are you grateful for today?                           
  • KNOW WHERE YOU ARE and WHAT THE RULES ARE. This property, called “School Trust State Land”, is owned by the State of Montana, is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), and is protected by a Conservation Easement held by Flathead Land Trust. Flathead Audubon serves as the Third-Party Cooperator and manages this area to help protect the Conservation Values. All Group Use must be applied for and approved by Flathead Audubon. To recreate here other than Group Use, you are required to hold a valid Montana Conservation License. All hunting and fishing must be done according to the rules issued by Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP). Questions? Email: OS@flatheadaudubon.org