by WLP Executive Director Heidi Van Everen and Director of Development Alan Myers-Davis
We are scouting the conservation potential of 480 acres of the thriving area surrounding Smith Lake. This land is sandwiched between residential development on Whitefish Lake and the steep, rugged slopes of the Whitefish Range. This area is clearly prime valuable land for development, and Whitefish Legacy Partners recognizes it as a high risk of sale in upcoming years. As we explore the banks of Smith Creek, it’s beauty and value is undeniable. A few giant larch trees have established deep roots that keep the rushing stream within its banks and ripe raspberries and huckleberries keep us continually distracted from the day’s mission. We fight our way through lush vegetation and pop out into a clearing within a stone’s throw of Smith Lake and within earshot of the creeks. We say to Greg, “Who wouldn’t want to build their private Montana dream house here?” Who knows, in 5, 10, or 25 years the DNRC could sell this parcel and transfer access and ownership from the public to the highest bidder. Luckily, however, the community has bigger plans to protect these lands in perpetuity.