POLSON – Hundreds of families, foundations and businesses have stepped up to the plate to help the Flathead Lake Biological Station meet a $1 million fundraising challenge. With more than $560,000 in donations in the past two years, FLBS is more than halfway to its goal of matching a grant for the Flathead Lake Monitoring Program.
“The people who have contributed know this lake is a very special place and worthy of their investment in its future,” FLBS Director Jack Stanford said. “We are very grateful for the outpouring of support.”
Government budget cuts hit the Flathead Lake Monitoring Program hard. In late 2011, an anonymous local donor pledged $1 million toward the program if FLBS and the community match the grant before the end of 2014.
As the deadline nears, a push to match the remainder of the Lake Monitoring Challenge Grant is in full swing. More than 300 families responded to a letter sent this past fall to the local community, including all shoreline homeowners. This brought in $55,000 for the monitoring program.
Jack Hanna, world-renowned animal expert, is one of the Flathead Lake residents who supports the Bio Station’s efforts. “I have been all around the world, and there is no finer lake than Flathead,” Hanna said. “The Bio Station’s monitoring work is very important to keep it that way.”
FLBS scientists specialize in ecological research and education with an emphasis on freshwater, particularly Flathead Lake and its watershed.
“Monitoring is the most important tool to keep Flathead Lake vibrant and healthy, because it reveals threats before they become problems,” said Bonnie Ellis, FLBS research assistant professor.
University of Montana economists estimate that the lake increases shoreline property values by $6 billion to $8 billion. Nature-based tourism accounts for more than 20 percent of the economy of Flathead and Lake Counties.
For more information or to make a donation, call Tom Bansak, FLBS research scientist and development coordinator, at 406-982-3301 ext. 229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Give online at http://www2.umt.edu/flbs/.