Threats within the Upper Missouri
Coteau Focus Area are generally related to agriculture. Wetland drainage, prairie
conversion, encroachment of non-native grass species into native prairie, invasive
species, erosion, wetland sedimentation, and degraded water quality from nutrients and
pesticides are all problems. Any slowdown in the livestock industry will force landowners
to convert more native grassland to cropland.
Oil and gas development is another
concern. Spills, leaks, saltwater contamination, and habitat loss from pipelines and roads
are adversely impacting wetlands and uplands.
work will continue to emphasize wetland creation and restoration work, perpetual wetland
and grassland easements, and grazing systems. Additional opportunities for habitat work
are becoming available through new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enrollments. Unlike
prior enrollments, recent sign-ups emphasize wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement.
Landowners now have a strong incentive to use the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program,
or other tools, to increase their Environmental Benefit Index Scores.
Portions of the Focus Area have
abundant nesting cover in the form of CRP or native rangelands, but lack wetlands.
Depending on topography and soil conditions, there is potential for creating shallow
impoundments as well as restoring drained wetlands. Artificial wetlands are generally
constructed in drainages with very gradual slopes to provide shallow wetland habitat for
shorebirds and waterfowl. In some areas, reservoir complexes have been constructed that
have many of the productive characteristics of natural wetland complexes. Establishing
additional wetland habitat has been a key objective of the Northeast Montana Prairie
Pothole Joint Venture Project.
The average cost for wetland
restoration is $150 per acre. Upland enhancements cost approximately $10 per acre to
Securing perpetual conservation easements is another key component
of our conservation strategy in the Upper Missouri Coteau. Easements are strictly
voluntary, and the land remains in private ownership. Haying and grazing is allowed but
grasslands cannot be broken. Wetlands cannot be drained, filled, or burned. We believe
that easements are a powerful tool that compliment Medicine Lakes Wetland Management
District and prevent additional habitat fragmentation on private land.
- Approximately 15,000 acres of wetlands
could be restored or established on private or tribal lands.
- Approximately 300,000 acres of
grasslands could be restored or enhanced within this Focus Area on private and tribal
- Strengthen our working relationship with
Fort Peck Tribes with a focus on easements and the Manning Lake wetland-native prairie