In the late 1960s, Howard Bailey built a reservoir on his property south of Kremlin.
The reservoir is, at the longest point, nearly two-thirds of a mile long, and Bailey became something of a hero to area fishers.
“He just looked over the prairie, and he could see on the lay of the coulee a body of water,” his daughter, Jeanne Bailey Martin, said. “He saw it like an oasis on the prairie.”
“He built it for only two reasons,” said Woody Baxter of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “He wanted people to be able to fish, and he wanted a place for birds to nest.”
“Not a drop of water was used for irrigation,” he said.
The reservoir became a favorite spot for fishermen.
“He loved having people fish,” Martin said of her father. “He never met a person he didn’t like.”
For years, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks stocked the reservoir. When Bailey died — he drowned while ice fishing on the pond — there were fears that someone may want the pond as a location for their second home.
But Martin said she knew that was the last thing her father would want.
“My husband and I are getting older, and we can’t take care of it the way would like,” she said.
So, she sold 102 acres to FWP. With help from Jim Filipowicz, Great Falls Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited purchased five more acres to finish the deal.
Now, Bailey Martin will own one-half of the area, and FWP will own the other half.
The FWP section will become an access location, Baxter said.
Saturday, FWP and Great Falls and Fresno chapters of Walleyes will host a public celebration for the new Bailey Reservoir Access Area, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Fresno Walleyes Unlimited will serve hot dogs and hamburgers and a brief ceremony will honor the Baileys for their dedication to the site.
“This event will be a way to recognize and properly thank the Bailey family and the several partners involved that secured access for future generations to this important Hi-Line reservoir,” Baxter said.
This summer, FWP plans to make initial improvements to this new access site, he said. This will include upgrading the entrance road and parking area, building a new boat ramp, improving the existing picnic shelter and installing of a precast concrete picnic shelter and latrine.