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Centennial Valley

Conservation Strategies


Threats

Rancher in Centennial Valley with new stock tanksThe biggest threat to the Centennial Valley is habitat fragmentation from subdivision. While the valley is still relatively intact, outside pressures to chop up the valley into ranchettes threaten crucial fish and wildlife habitat. Additional long-term impacts to habitat in the valley include: overgrazing, brush control, poorly designed irrigation systems, undersized culvert crossings, channelized streams, and improper mining operations.


Conservation Strategies

The goal of the Partner’s Program in the Centennial Valley is to work cooperatively with private landowners and other agencies and conservation groups to restore and preserve unique fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. The Program got started in the Centennial Valley in 1994 at the request of then Director Mollie Beattie. The Program gives special emphasis to those properties and projects that provide connectivity between Red Rocks Refuge and the surrounding Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management properties. Projects include: in-stream restoration, riparian restoration, wetland restoration, grazing management, off-site water development, native grass reseeding, and conservation easements.

The costs associated with these restorations are:

  • Wetland Restoration - $500/acre
  • Grassland Enhancement - $10/acre
  • In-Stream Restoration - $9.50/linear foot
  • Riparian Restoration - $1.50/linear foot

Perpetual conservation easements are the preferred tool for landscape management in the valley. Conservation easements have been placed on three important properties in the east end of the valley by the National Wildlife Refuge. The Nature Conservancy hired a Centennial Valley representative to work with landowners in 1998. Private landowners, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Refuge staff, Realty staff, and Montana congressional staff were successful in securing Land and Water Conservation Funding to purchase conservation easements in the valley. starting in 2000. The goal is to buffer the Refuge, link public lands, and preserve the traditional ranching lifestyle. This goal will be accomplished through a variety of funding sources: Land and Water Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, North American Waterfowl Management Plan, foundations, and donated easements.

Noxious weeds (spotted knapweed, houndstongue, henbane, etc.) are rare in most of the valley; however, they are beginning to appear throughout the region. A weed district was started in 1998, and intensive control efforts were started in 1999. Current tools being used include educational, mechanical, biological, and chemical controls. Unless better control methods become available, noxious weeds will require diligence from all land managers and resource users long into the future. There is a tremendous amount of support locally for the Partners Program and numerous restoration projects yet to be completed in the Valley.


Future Needs

  • Restore 2,000 acres of wetlands in this Focus Area on private lands.
  • Restore or enhance 75,000 acres of grasslands.
  • Restore 175 miles of in-stream and riparian habitat.

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