Montana Audubon

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A Planning Guide for Protecting Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas

A Planning Guide for Protecting Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas was designed to address the impacts of new buildings and related development on sensitive aquatic areas. Montana Audubon’s Program Director, Janet Ellis, was the principal author of the publication. The project was a cooperative venture between Montana Audubon, Montana Watercourse, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. In 2008, seven new case studies were added to the document and all contact information was updated.

How to Obtain the Planning Guide

There are two ways to obtain the 2008 Planning Guide:

Download the Planning Guide as a pdf:

Request that a copy be mailed to you. To obtain a FREE copy by mail, send your name, address, and request — for the updated 2008 A Planning Guide for Protecting Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas — to Montana Audubon (email [email protected]) or the Montana Watercourse, P.O. Box 170575, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717-0575; (406) 994-6671.


Plan_Guide_Cover_2008Download the revised 2008 Planning Guide for Protecting Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas

Front Cover and Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Why Should Local Governments Protect Wetlands and Riparian Areas?

This chapter spells out the benefits of wetland and riparian resources to local communities, as well as the most common reasons why local governments are increasingly playing an active role in guiding development away from these important natural resource areas.

Chapter 2. Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas: Understanding the Resource.

In order to establish an effective conservation program, it is important to understand the resource that needs protection. This chapter explains what wetlands and riparian areas are, and discusses the various types found in Montana.

Chapter 3. Building a Local Government Program to Protect Wetlands and Riparian Areas.

The elements of a local government wetland and stream conservation program are described here.

Chapter 4. How to Develop On-the-ground Conservation Measures.

This chapter contains the details that local officials will need to consider as they develop on-the-ground conservation measures. These conservation measurers can then be used in Chapters 5 and 6 (below), which outline how Montana-specific land use tools can be used in protection efforts. Since vegetated buffers are widely regarded as being the most critical element of protection efforts, most of the discussion in this chapter centers on setting up effective buffers.

Chapter 5. Using Local Land Use Planning Tools For Wetland and Riparian Protection.

A description of the specific land use tools available to Montana local governments to protect wetlands and riparian areas is found here—from growth policies, subdivision regulations, and floodplain regulations to development permit systems, open space bonds and park dedication requirements. Five new case studies were added in 2008: Lake County, the Big Hole River, and City of Bozeman—Protecting Isolated Wetlands on page 5-5; and the Gallatin County and Lewis & Clark County on page 5-12. The strengths and weaknesses of each tool are described so that decision makers will understand the level and effectiveness of resource protection provided by the tool. Case studies are highlighted where examples were found on how tools were used in Montana to achieve conservation goals.

Chapter 6. Other Tools and Resources to Know About.

This chapter identifies tools and resources that can assist local governments in carrying out protection efforts. Two new case studies were added in 2008: the Bitterroot Conservation District on page 6-8 and the Big Hole River on page 6-10. These tools include private covenants, deed restrictions, conservation easements, the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act (310 Permit Program), Watershed Groups, various grant programs, and Special Area Management Plans (SAMP).

Appendices and Back Cover

  • Appendix I: Conservation Standards Used to Protect Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas. This table was updated in 2008.
  • Appendix II: Suggested Language for Local Policies & Regulations
  • Appendix III: Identifying Local Resources: Sources for Maps & Other Information
  • Appendix IV: Regulatory Programs that Local Governments Should Know About
  • Appendix V: Suggested Language For Conservation Easements
  • Appendix VI: Montana Private Land Trusts that Handle Conservation Easements
  • Appendix VII: References

Updated Information

Since A Planning Guide for Protecting Montana’s Wetlands and Riparian Areas was published in 2003, several regulations have been adopted by local governments and contact information has changed for several case studies. If you have a 2003 edition of the Planning Guide, you can add the following new case studies and updated contact information:

New Case Studies

The 2008 edition of the Planning Guide includes these new case studies on regulations adopted by local governments to protect wetlands and/or riparian areas. They were added to the publication in July 2008.

Updated Contact Information

This is the contact information for all case studies that appear in the Planning Guide as of July 2008.

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