Georgetown Lake Land Acquisition Completed
HELENA — The State of Montana has purchased 363 acres adjoining Georgetown Lake for public recreational use and natural resource preservation, Carol Fox, restoration chief of the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program announced Tuesday.
The acquisition was funded by a $2-million grant from the natural resource damage settlement fund. Fox said that the purchase, completed March 17, was based on agreements between the State, Mountain Lion LLC, an entity controlled by Washington Development Co., and The Conservation Fund.
The Stuart Mill Bay property includes approximately two miles of lake frontage on the southeast portion of Georgetown Lake. According to Fox, it includes wetlands, grasslands and forest that support diverse fish, waterfowl and wildlife populations, and many public recreational activities. The property has historically been open to public use and informally managed as a dispersed campground, day-use and fishing access site for decades. Mountain Lion LLC formerly owned the property.
“We have long recognized the importance of this property as a valuable public resource,” Washington Development Co. president John Crowley said. “We appreciate The Conservation Fund stepping forward and applying its dedication, knowledge and commitment to make this project a reality.”
The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit conservation organization that works in partnership to acquire lands for wildlife habitat and recreation, applied for the natural resource damage program funds last year on behalf of the Georgetown Lake Homeowners Association.
“We salute Mountain Lion for its generosity and the State for its wise investment in creating Montana’s newest wildlife and recreation site,” Mark Elsbree of The Conservation Fund said.
Fox credited the successful purchase to the cooperation of the Governor, who approved funding for the project late last year, Mountain Lion LLC, The Conservation Fund, Georgetown Lake Homeowners Association and the many members of the general public who strongly supported the project.
“We are pleased to have helped preserve this property’s natural resource, scenic and recreational values for the benefit of current and future generations,” Chuck Stokke of the Georgetown Homeowners Association said. “Thanks to all of the friends of Georgetown Lake who worked so diligently to make this acquisition possible.”
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) will own and manage the property. Mack Long, FWP’s Regional Supervisor, noted the considerable benefits of having this property protected in perpetuity. “This action protects water quality for one of the finest lake fisheries in Montana,” he said. “It provides a movement corridor for wildlife and will sustain nesting habitat for waterfowl and other birds. Public access will be maintained and a scenic view will be preserved.”
Grant funding for this acquisition comes from the partial settlement of a lawsuit brought by the State in 1983 to recover damages to natural resources caused by decades of mining and smelting in the Butte-Anaconda area. The State sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1983 and settled several portions of the lawsuit in 1998, receiving $215 million. About $130 million of that is earmarked to restore or replace the injured natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown Dam near Missoula.