by Darcy Thomas – President

What a year! What a year! I remember beginning the year as your new Flathead Audubon President with such trepidation, feeling I was not ready and not up to the task. I was so afraid of making a fool of myself – which I probably did from time to time. But, I have come to love this role and working hard for an organization that does such amazing things for birds and the world in which they live. Thank you for being patient with me as I learned the ropes.

And now we are celebrating one of our biggest achievements –a conservation easement on the Owen Sowerwine Area. It is the culmination of years of effort to provide permanent conservation protection for this Area, that began with the “passage of Montana’s Natural Areas Act in 1974 that opened the way for the creation of OSNA.” (Linda Winnie, January 2002 Pileated Post, page 4, The history here is extensive; I encourage you to check out Linda’s article – and other articles published in our newsletter over the years tracing the history of the Owen Sowerwine Area. It all started with the vision of one man, Owen Sowerwine, and was carried forward by the dedication of many who followed his lead.

It has been over 45 years from the official dedication of ceremony of the Owen Sowerwine Area on September 9, 1978, to the signing of the documents on February 29, 2024, that placed it under a permanent Conservation Easement. In that time many people have been engaged in a labor of love to preserve the land, learn about its birds and other wild creatures, thwart invasive species, educate children and adults, and devise a management plan that protects the area for future generations. In the original management plan, long-time Flathead Valley conservationist and philanthropist, Sam Bibler, called on managers of OS “…to keep the heavy hand of man as much out of the management as possible, and to proceed as carefully and thoughtfully as possible.” This sentiment has guided Flathead Audubon in its management of the area. 

Please join us in a celebration of the Owen Sowerwine Conservation Easement at this month’s general meeting. We will hear several speakers who have worked diligently towards this achievement. I wish I had the space to mention the names of everyone who has been a part of this project, but please know that each one of you are appreciated, and your efforts have been part of something bigger than ourselves.