Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Wileys Slough
Flathead County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description lake, 4.8 km (3 mi) long and 0.2 km , an oxbow lake located along Patrick Creek, 4.8 km (3 mi) N of the N end of Flathead Lake; named for an early landowner in the area
Location 48°07’25”N, 114°12’39”W
PLSS Location Secs 1,2,11&12, T27N, R21W
Proposal to make official a historical name in local use
Proponent Kurt Hafferman; Kalispell, MT
Not Browns Slough, Ficken’s Slough, Heine’s Slough, Sc
Administrative area None
Previous BGN Action None
See also 38702
GNIS ID 2094697
Local Usage Brown’s Slough (local residents), Ficken’s Slough (former property owner), Heine’s Slough (former property owner), Weaver’s Slough (former property owner), Wileys Slough (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation), Wiley’s Slough (former property owner)
Published Published: Wileys Slough (Flathead County Water Rights Reports, 2003, 2005)
This proposal is to make official the name Wileys Slough for a horseshoe-shaped, 4.8 km (3 mi) long oxbow lake located in the valley north of Flathead Lake. It was submitted by the Montana Board on Geographic Names on behalf of the Manager of the Kalispell Regional Office of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), which had been asked to comment on a previous proposal, to name the same feature Browns Slough (BGN Review List 387). The latter name, which has since been withdrawn by the proponent, had been submitted by a local farmer who reported that his neighbors, many of whom have ranched in the area for many years, primarily referred to the feature as Brown’s Slough, ever since an individual named Brown established a homestead near the southern end of the feature. The proponent noted that since World War II, various property owners, several of whom are still living, applied their own names to the feature (Fickens Slough, Heines Slough, Weavers Slough, Wileys Slough), and this had led to confusion. Further research suggests the feature has also been known as Schoolhouse Slough.

The Montana DNRC was asked to comment on the proposal for Browns Slough, but in its response, stated that “renaming” Wileys Slough would cause confusion and would require updating a considerable number of water rights documents, permits, and GIS files. Although not listed in GNIS, the latter name was also found in several water rights reports published online in 2003 and 2005.

The Flathead County Commissioners had previously submitted a letter of support for Browns Slough, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also indicated it had no objection to that name. However, when asked to revisit the issue, the County Commissioners indicated they were withdrawing their support for the latter name and would endorse the name Wileys Slough instead. A member of the Wiley family living in the area today reports that her husband’s ancestor, Christian H. Wiley (died 1918), homesteaded on the property in the early 1890’s, and it is also believed that he was responsible for building a dike across the feature.

Citing the objections of the DNRC, the Montana Board on Geographic Names does not support the original proposal and recommends approval of Wileys Slough. The Manager of the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge has reviewed the new information and agrees that the proposal for Wileys Slough is appropriate. He also confirmed that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks supports that name as well. Copies of the two proposals were sent to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, but no response was received, which is presumed to indicate a lack of an opinion on the issue.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Friday, August 26, 2005)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, September 14, 2006
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to make official this name.

Vote: 9 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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