Flathead Lake Biological Station Earns $2 million - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Flathead Lake Biological Station Earns $2 million

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POLSON - Flathead Lake Biological Station receives $2 million after almost three years of work.

Half of it comes from the community, but the other half comes from one anonymous, local family.

Today, it's a sixth grade class from Fair-Mont-Egan Elementary that's learning at the Station, but kids and adults are always dropping by and getting schooled in ecology, biology, and the science behind Flathead Lake.

"We're learning about the environment and where we live and what other things live in the environment," said Abi Manger, a sixth grader at Fair-Mont-Egan.

The University of Montana's Biological Station has stood for more than 100 years. Usually, 20% of its budget comes from the University. After that, they really have to fend for themselves.

"We've gotten federal grants," said Tom Bansak, the development coordinator at the Station as well as a research scientist himself, "We've gotten funding from state and federal agencies, but both of those funding pathways have kind of dried up recently."

Less than three years ago, a family promised to give the Station $1 million if they could raise their own million over the next three years. They managed to do it with time to spare.

"I've gotten so many phone calls and letters from people sharing their love for the lake and their appreciation for what the Station does and so that's very touching," said Bansak.

Bansak says the million from the family will mostly go toward research and discovering new things about the lake and the species that rely on it.

The other million will help support the long term monitoring program that keeps a running record of the lake's stats. The Station has been doing these routine checkups for years, and it's what helps our politicians and federal groups make decisions about the lake.

"The Bio Station's monitoring program is in my opinion one of the most important things that we do, and can do for the lake. Understanding the conditions in the lake and changes as they're occurring helps our managers, helps us preserve and protect the lake," explained Bansak.

People don't just come to the Station to learn about what they're doing; scientists from the Station also go out and about to show people the science, rather than file it away in some cabinet.

Hundreds have donated to the Bio Station, including actor John Lithgow who owns a home on Flathead Lake.