The Bowdoin Wetland Management District (WMD) was established in 1958 under authority of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act. It currently consists of seven Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), four satellite National Wildlife Refuges (NWR), and over 158 grassland and/or wetland easement tracts. The District is spread over a four-county area in northern Montana, but most of the easements and all of the WPAs are located in Blaine and Phillips Counties. Total fee acreage is 9,504 acres, and grassland and/or wetland easement acreage is 50,402.
A grassland easement is a legal agreement signed with the United States of America, through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, that pays landowners to permanently keep the land in grass. Many landowners never plan on putting their land into crop production and can benefit from the added cash incentive of a grassland easement. Land covered by a grassland easement may not be cultivated. Mowing, haying, and grass seed harvesting is allowed but must be delayed until after July 15th each year. This restriction is to help grassland nesting species, such as ducks and pheasants, complete their nesting before the grass is disturbed. Grazing is not restricted in anyway. No signs are placed on the property and the easement will not affect the landowners hunting or mineral rights. Protecting grasslands ensures that wildlife will be there for future generations to enjoy.
A wetland easement is a legal agreement signed with the United States of America, through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, that pays landowners to permanently protect wetlands. Wetlands covered by an easement cannot be drained, filled, leveled, or burned. When these wetlands dry up naturally, they can be farmed, grazed, or hayed. Wetlands covered by an easement are mapped and a copy of the easement and maps is sent to the landowner. No signs are placed on the property and the easement will not affect the landowners hunting or mineral rights. Protecting wetlands ensures these habitats, wildlife, and benefits will be there for future generations.
Waterfowl Production Areas
Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) are purchased with money from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. Established to protect and restore waterfowl habitat, these small but important parts of the National Wildlife Refuge System play a critical role providing much needed habitat for wildlife. Hunting is permitted on most WPAs, in accordance with state regulations. Contact the Bowdoin Wetland Management District Manager for specific regulations.
For a detailed description of Bowdoin's district WPAs click here.
There are four unmanned satellite refuges managed out of the Bowdoin NWR headquarters. Hewitt Lake NWR lies within the Milk River Valley in Phillips County seven miles north of Bowdoin NWR. Established in 1938, this 1,680-acre refuge consists of approximately 720 acres of Public Domain and 960 acres of easement land. Habitat types include saline marshes (459 acres) and native grasslands (1,221 acres). A portion of this refuge is privately owned, visitors wishing to gain access to the private land must acquire permission from the landowner.
Black Coulee NWR is located in the glaciated pothole region of northeastern Blaine County. Established in 1938, the 1,494-acre refuge is made up of 639 acres of Public Domain, 670 acres of privately owned easement land and 185 acres of WPA. Habitat types include Black Coulee Reservoir (200 acres) native prairie (700 acres), and small grains (594 acres in easement portion). A portion of this refuge is privately owned. Visitors wishing to gain access to the private land must acquire permission from the landowner.
Creedman Coulee NWR, established in 1941, is located in Hill County about 30 miles north of Havre. The refuge consists of 2,648 acres of privately owned easement lands and only 80 acres of Public Domain for a total of 2,728 acres. Habitat types include Creedman Coulee Reservoir (308 acres), grasslands (1,550 acres), and cropland (870 acres). All of this refuge, with the exception of 80 acres of Public Domain is privately owned. Visitors wishing to gain access to the private land must acquire permission from the landowner.
Lake Thibadeau NWR is located about 15 miles northeast of Havre in Hill County. Established in 1937 as an easement refuge, this 4,040-acre refuge only contains 19.42 acres of Public Domain land. Habitat types include seasonally flooded basins or flats (600 acres), shallow fresh marshes (35 acres), native grasslands (480 acres) and croplands (2,925 acres). All of this refuge, with the exception of 19 acres of Public Domain is privately owned. Visitors wishing to gain access to the private land must acquire permission from the landowner.
For additional information on any of these topics please contact our Wetland Management District Manager.