State officials and community leaders honor the opening of Somers Beach State Park


Montana’s newest Somers Beach State Park on the north shore of Flathead Lake is open after a ribbon-cutting party Thursday afternoon.

The event included comments from Governor Greg Gianforte, the leaders of the Montana Fish, Parks and Wildlife, leaders from the Salish and Kootenay Confederate tribes, local trust groups in the lands and the Slaters family.

Efforts to convert the property to public land continued for many years, but officially took off when FWP acquired the 106-acre beach property in October 2021. The land was previously owned by the Slater family, who kept public access open to the property. The Flathead Land Trust has been working with the family for more than a decade to keep the property open to the public for the long term.

Gianforte said he wanted to acknowledge the work that went into shaping the park by thanking the Slater family, the Flathead Land Trust, the Montana State Parks Foundation, the FWP, and state legislators who helped make the acquisition possible.

“I just want to thank all their efforts. We have half a mile of Flathead Lake in a public park, and thanks to the generosity of Slater, families have enjoyed this for a long time, but with this conversion to FWP we will be able to invest and enhance so that people can enjoy this land,” Gianforte said. forever”.

Sliter CFO Andrea Goudge spoke, representing the family. She told the crowd about how her family, who owns Sliters Lumber and Building Supply is Somers, has enjoyed watching the community take part in Somers Beach over the years.

‘My grandmother acquired much of this property in the 1930s, when the young Slater family was a trading business and the family lived in an apartment behind the original store. Somers was a busy city in the daytime and we didn’t close our gates or turn away from people – baseball games were played on the sand and it was Hunters fish, families hang out, fishermen fish and kids cool off during the hot summer,” Judge said.

Flathead Land Trust CEO Paul Travis told the Daily Interlake in 2020 that at various times over a decade parties had considered a county park, fishing access site, and other ideas, but when Montana state parks expressed interest in the integral, The idea seemed like a natural fit.

At Thursday’s party, Travis thanked the community, which he said had provided overwhelming support for the project. Given the site’s location and beauty, he said, it did not make sense to choose to preserve the land for future generations.

“I also wanted to acknowledge this place, this view that we have, this wonderful lake. You know you don’t really get a view like this anywhere else, even in Flathead Lake. So, it’s just one of those special places that looks like ‘Oh Yes, of course, we will provide that for future generations and future generations”, but it is clear that it takes a lot of work and effort to make this happen.”

Jim Williams, the former FWP District 1 supervisor, said Somers Beach was the last project he worked on before his retirement. He said he’s seen many attempts to run Somers Beach over the long term, but he’s happy to see the project finally pay off.

“Some mountains moved to make it happen. You know the development pressures in this valley and this could be all neighborhoods and condominiums, but instead we had a family, the Slater family, taking care of the feel of the place,” Williams said.

Hope Stockwell led most of the party as director of the outdoor recreation division under the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She welcomed tribal elder Louis Kea Jr. with the Confederate tribes of Salish and Kootenay to make opening remarks for the ribbon cutting.

“At one point we were looking after this property here, the people of the nation were here, we didn’t own the land, but we were herders,” Kia Jr. said. “Today, this property is back in the hands of the greats. I say my dream came true because I speak to this person here every morning, to ask for protection for our lands.”

The State Parks and Recreation Board recently approved $200,000 for the park to develop the initial site, which includes a parking lot, trash cans, restrooms, and signage. Stockwell said FWP is going through a planning process to determine what the site will look like.

Currently, the park is open for day use only, said Dillon Tabish, director of communications and education program for FWP District 1, FWP District 1. No fires or fireworks allowed and dogs must be on a leash at this time.

He said car park construction is expected to start in a couple of weeks, so until then people need to park carefully.

Access to Somers Beach State Park from Somers Road near the intersection with Pickleville Lane.

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