Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.
Wetlands and riparian areas, where water and land come together, are some of the most productive and valuable of Montana’s natural areas, providing a wide variety of environmental and human benefits. The benefits of these resources for local communities include:
The best inventory completed shows Montana’s wetland, riparian, and water resources occupy 4.3% of the state, which is made up the following (Source: MT Natural Heritage Program, May 15, 2015):
The information below describes the importance of this habitat to fish and wildlife, specific wetland/riparian habitat types found in Montana, and conservation measures that can be used to protect these sensitive areas.
Wetlands, riparian areas, and water are particularly important habitats for wildlife.
Cottonwood forests provide habitat for more than half the bird species in Montana, while hundreds of thousands of spring and fall migrating birds seek these riparian corridors for food and shelter. In the western United States, they support a higher diversity of breeding birds than all other western habitats combined.
Wetlands and riparian areas make up less than 3.3 percent of Montana’s land base, yet remain the most important wildlife habitat in our state. However, the same places that attract wildlife are also attractive to people. The protection and enhancement of Montana’s remaining wetlands is a priority issue for Montana Audubon. Because of this, we have initiated a series of projects, described below, that are designed to provide citizens and local government officials with the information they need to protect these important areas.
Wetlands and riparian habitat are critical to the health and survival of Montana’s wildlife. Yet these same areas are often the sites for new homes and development pressure. Many conflicts with—and adverse impacts to—wildlife could be avoided by land use planning decisions made at the local level.
Because of the volume and scale of river projects being constructed many of our states streams and rivers, Montana Audubon completed a fact sheet that describes all of the common bank stabilization structures being used (for example: riprap, bendway weirs, jetties, barbs, etc.).
Montana Audubon works on issues impacted by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Click here to learn about the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency rule that updated the definition of “Waters of the United State” OR to learn about our layman’s guide on how wetlands are protected under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Wetlands and riparian areas protect clean water. And our communities depend on clean water. View this short video on the life of water in Missoula – from groundwater, into our homes, into a treatment plant, and then back into our groundwater. Hidden Life of Water
Owen Sowerwine Natural Area
Montana Audubon has a license on a 442-acre parcel of school trust land located at the confluence of the Flathead and Stillwater Rivers. It is the first—and only—state natural area designated on school trust land.
Picotte Property Wetland
Montana Audubon facilitated the purchase of a 2.5-acre wetland in the Helena Valley near the County Fairgrounds. This was a cooperative project with Last Chance Audubon, Mikal Kellner Foundation, Prickly Pear Land Trust and the City of Helena. The City of Helena now owns the parcel, and Montana Audubon holds a permanent conservation easement on the property.
The Army Corps of Engineers
The Army Corps of Engineers regulates all activities that fill wetlands under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The 404 program also regulates the placement of bank stabilization structures along our rivers and streams. Montana Audubon is the leading conservation organization in the state commenting on 404 permits, including keeping other conservation organizations involved and informed about individual projects. This is an acre-by-acre approach to protecting these resources.