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Montana IBA Contact

Amy Seaman

Montana IBAs by Type

IBA Priority Number Acres
Global 14 9,907,232
Continental 1 24,787
State 25 277,600
Total 40 10,209,619

Here we detail the history of the Montana statewide IBA program. For more information, GIS and Google Earth files, and an easy link to maps of each IBA, go to {link: Montana Audubon's IBA website.|http://mtaudubon.org/birds/areas.html} Also check out our new brochures, {link: Our Birds Call This Home|http://www.mtaudubon.org/birds/riverinebmp.html}, describing "best management practices". The Montana Important Bird Areas program got off to a great start when the first suite of IBAs was identified in January 2002. These sites are spread across the length and breadth of the state and range in size from 53 ha at Safe Harbor Marsh to more than 440,000 ha at the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Collectively, they encompass many of the premier tracts of bird habitat in the state, including riparian woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, sagebrush steppe, and burned forests, each of which is a habitat that merits high conservation priority. Federal and state agencies are the primary land managers for all but two of the original IBAs, and many of the sites were receiving some form of protection (e.g., national wildlife refuge, BLM area of critical environmental concern, or state wildlife management area) before they were identified as IBAs. The Montana program is in its second phase of IBA identification, with an emphasis on private and tribal lands. This shift in focus results from the fact that 65% of Montana is privately owned, yet private lands received little consideration in the first round of nominations. In addition, more than three million hectares occur within the boundaries of our seven tribal reservations. These lands also had received little attention. Consequently, in 2003 Montana Audubon began raising funds to inventory birds for IBA nominations in areas that are not dominated by public land. By 2006, these efforts had resulted in new IBAs along the Madison River and Clark Fork River that focused on private lands, and along the Tongue River within the borders of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Each of these sites contains cottonwood gallery forest that supports a high diversity of Neotropical migrants and other birds of conservation priority. Also in 2006 we identified new IBAs at Hebgen Lake to help protect a large congregation of wintering Trumpeter Swans and in the Blackfoot Valley to focus attention on Intermountain sagebrush that supports high numbers of nesting Brewer's Sparrows. In March of 2007, we established new IBAs on the Flathead Indian Reservation at the site of the largest known communal roost of Rough-legged Hawks in the world, and along the Bitterroot River, where the riparian cottonwoods (most of which are privately owned) support good numbers of nesting Bald Eagles, Lewis's Woodpeckers, and Red-naped Sapsuckers. In April 2008, we identified a new IBA that will help focus attention on a prairie wetland complex on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Also in 2008 we identified five new sagebrush-shrubsteppe IBAs for the protection of the Greater Sage-Grouse and other sage associated bird species. {link: For more information on these new sage IBAs go here.|http://mtaudubon.org/birds/sageiba.html} We now have 37 identified IBAs and will continue to evaluate new sites for inclusion into the program over the next few years.

Site Name Status Prioritysort descending Counties IBA Criteria
Clark Fork River-Grass Valley Recognized Continental Missoula
Hebgen Lake Recognized Global Gallatin
Little Beaver Creek Recognized Global Valley
North Valley Grasslands Recognized Global Valley
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Recognized Global Phillips
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Recognized Global Roosevelt, Sheridan
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge Recognized Global Fergus, Garfield, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips
Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Recognized Global Broadwater
Glacier National Park Recognized Global Flathead, Glacier
Westby Prairie-Wetland Complex Recognized Global Sheridan
Powder/Carbon Sage-steppe Recognized Global Carter
Beaverhead Sage-steppe Recognized Global Beaverhead
Bridger Sage-steppe Recognized Global Carbon
Mussellshell Sage-steppe Recognized Global Fergus, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Petroleum, Rosebud, Treasure
Glaciated Prairie Sage-steppe Recognized Global Phillips, Valley
Blackfoot Valley Recognized State Powell
Kevin Rim Recognized State Toole
Bitterroot River Recognized State Missoula, Ravalli
Madison Valley Recognized State Madison
Tongue River Recognized State Rosebud


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