Important Bird Areas

Little Beaver Creek

Montana

This site includes the hardpan areas in and around Little Beaver Creek and is managed as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for nesting Mountain Plovers. The habitat is characterized by extremely low vegetation and large amounts of bare ground. Within the ACEC, Mountain Plovers are associated with bentonite soils that are dominated by a diffuse growth of knotweed and hardpan clay soils dominated by Nuttall's saltbush, Sandberg's bluegrass, and western wheatgrass.

Ornithological Summary

The area has been formally identified by the BLM as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in recognition of the high number of Mountain Plovers that nest there. In recent years, the number of nesting plovers has exceeded the threshold for an IBA of Global significance. Other species of conservation concern that breed on the site are Greater Sage-Grouse, Long-billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl, Brewer's Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and McCown's Longspur, although no estimates of numbers are available for these species.

Conservation Issues

Recognition of the IBA as a BLM Area of Critical Environmental Concern should afford some added protection for birds, but the potential remains for disturbance from off-road vehicles and for disturbance and habitat degradation from bentonite mining and oil and gas exploration and extraction.

Ownership

Nearly all of the IBA consists (96.1%) consists of BLM land that has been identified as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). There is also one State section and slightly more than one-half of a section of private land within the border of the ACEC.

Habitat

The site is dominated by dry grasslands and shrublands, the latter consisting of sagebrush and saltbush with lots of bare ground in areas used by the plovers.