Important Bird Areas

Beaverhead Sage-steppe

Montana

The Beaverhead Sage-steppe IBA is a complex in southwest Montana and encompasses extensive high elevation basins and intermountain valleys dominated by native sagebrush shrub-steppe.

For IBA map, click here.

Ornithological Summary

The IBA represents the largest intact sagebrush habitats that remain in southwestern Montana, in extent and continuity and supports significant numbers of Greater Sage-Grouse--at least 3% of the state population. The IBA encompasses at least 29 known lek sites (3% of the leks in the state), and supports at least 730 male grouse in the breeding season (>3% of the state population of surveyed male grouse). The IBA ranges from the lowest and driest sagebrush sites in the region to the highest and wettest sagebrush sites in southwestern Montana. This variation is reflected in the mobility of local grouse populations: grouse in Horse Prairie remain resident through the year, where grouse in the Centennial Valley range 10 to 20 miles through the seasons.

Conservation Issues

Past rangeland management in the 1960s and 70s broadly altered sagebrush extent through burning, spraying and grazing, however current rangeland management is complimentary with maintaining and restoring the sagebrush shrub-steppe habitats. Most areas are recovered with second-growth sagebrush. Current threats are primarily from the potential for private lands development for subdivisions and residences, and potential changes in land ownership. Drought and climate change also place stresses on the vegetation community and noxious weed invasion is an ongoing management problem. There is limited conifer encroachment in some areas. There is low potential for energy development in the near future.

Ownership

Landownership is primarily Bureau of Land Management and private ranch lands, mixed with small amount of other federal and state lands.

Habitat

Landownership is primarily Bureau of Land Management and private ranch lands, mixed with small amount of other federal and state lands.