Whitefish accepts new state agreement on Beaver Lake access

The Town of Whitefish approved an agreement that would allow Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to maintain a fishing access site at Beaver Lake, but would not provide rental funds for the site.

The city council last week approved a memorandum of understanding on access to fishing.

Whitefish City attorney Angela Jacobson said that while the city would not collect the annual rental fee of $ 3,500 for the site it typically collects, the deal would preserve public access to the site. peach. The town had previously passed the rental fee to Whitefish Legacy Partners, which manages the area in the act of recreation, including the Whitefish Trail.

The deal will require FWP to provide funds for maintenance, which helps cover costs, Jacobson noted.

Beaver Lake is located west of Whitefish, off Beaver Lake Road.

The city, Whitefish Legacy Partners and FWP recently reached an agreement that requires the state agency to maintain the fishing access area, including with garbage collection, to provide portable toilets. May 1 to October 31, to pay for all capital improvements for the site, including the parking area and boat launch, and help reduce dust on the road leading to the site to a maximum of $ 1,000 per year.

Mayor John Muhlfeld said he was surprised at such a tight budget that prevents FWP from finding the funds.

“It amazes me that FWP cannot find $ 3,500 to maintain public access to a public resource,” he said. “Hard times, I guess. “

The new agreement also requires FWP to explore the possibility of establishing an additional fishing access site in the Murray Lake recreational easement area.

Since 2012, the city has held an act of public recreation for the Beaver Lakes region. In order to preserve public access to the lake, the city has rented a fishing site of approximately 2 acres from FWP since 2014. As part of the deal, FWP paid a rental fee of $ 3,500 to the city which forwarded them to Legacy Partners. FWP was also required to maintain the existing parking lot for vehicles, maintain the boat launch and provide signs.

In 2018, FWP informed the city that it would no longer have the funds to pay the rental fees in the future. Thus, the two parties, along with Whitefish Legacy Partners, have entered into a two-year extension of the initial five-year lease in order to give themselves time to conclude a new agreement.

Heidi Van Everan, Executive Director of Whitefish Legacy Partners, said it was positive that FWP was still able to provide $ 1,000 for dust reduction and support for the fishing access site. Legacy Partners will collect the remaining $ 2,000 which will no longer be paid by FWP.

The new agreement is in effect until March 2022.