KALISPELL – Work is underway on the new community fishing pond at River’s Edge Park in Columbia Falls.
Crews broke ground on the project on October 29 and the work is expected to continue through November. Visitors are asked to please keep clear of all posted and fenced areas and be sure to keep pets leashed.
The new pond is slated for completion in summer 2019 and will provide the community a family-friendly, accessible location for fishing.
The project is emerging thanks to 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 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 3rd Ave E connector trail provides a short walking access to River’s Edge Park,” Nicosia added.
A working group featuring members of the business community, nonprofits, 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. FWP 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, FWP 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,” he added.
The City of Columbia Falls is coordinating the project, led by City Manager Susan Nicosia and Public Works Director Tyler Bradshaw.
Schellinger Construction is donating the excavator and operator hours for developing the pond while Hamilton Excavating is donating time to help haul fill from the project site.
Sands Surveying has donated services, administration of permits and other expertise while Applied Water Consulting donated expertise and services to obtain several permits.
JD Thinning is donating services to clean up the streets during the hauling process.