Notice of intent in Federal Register
Gather public input
Develop management alternatives
Prepare draft plan and environmental assessment (EA)
Release draft plan and EA for public review
Notice of availability in Federal Register
Analyze public comments
Complete final plan
Notice of availability in Federal Register
The following units of the refuge complex are part of this planning effort:
On completion, this comprehensive conservation plan will set out the management and use of Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex for 15 years. The refuge complex spans 12 counties and both sides of the Continental Divide in Montana.
The main purpose for the refuge complex is to provide habitat for migratory birds, as set out in the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is on the western edge of the northern Great Plains, 50 miles east of the Rocky Mountains. The refuge is an oasis of native grasslands and wetlands lying within a sea of agriculture, and is home to the largest breeding colonies of Franklin's gulls and white-faced ibis in Montana. The National Audubon Society has designated the refuge as a Globally Important Bird Area.
Benton Lake Wetland Management District
Benton Lake is the largest wetland management district in the country. Twenty-two waterfowl production areas in the district, important for waterfowl nesting and feeding, occur throughout a setting of open space, wetlands, and scattered mountain ranges. In addition to protection of habitat for migratory birds, the purpose of the district is for conservation (Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act). Conservation easements protect more than 86,000 acres across the district.
Blackfoot Valley Conservation Area
This 1.5-million-acre watershed extends from the top of the Continental Divide westward for about 132 miles. The geologic, hydrologic, and topographic features of the watershed have produced a mosaic of habitat types. Wetland complexes provide important breeding habitat for 21 species of waterfowl and other waterbirds. In addition, area habitats support bull trout, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and grizzly bears. The general purpose of this wildlife management area is to conserve wetland, fish, and wildlife resources (Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986, Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956).
Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area
The Service established this easement program to conserve fish and wildlife habitat (Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956). The purpose of the project is to create and maintain intact blocks of important wildlife habitat between existing protected areas. Important parts of this program are the large, working ranches in the area, which play a major role in supporting and protecting biological values of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Swan River National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge is nestled in the serene Swan Valley Mountain Range in northwestern Montana. Historically, the meandering Swan River left a series of oxbow sloughs within its floodplain, where the refuge now lies. Refuge habitat supports a variety of wildlife species including yellow perch, Canada geese, marsh wrens, white-tailed deer, and an occasional grizzly bear.
Swan Valley Conservation Area
The purpose of the project is to protect one of the last low-elevation, coniferous forest ecosystems in western Montana that remains undeveloped. The Swan Valley is one of the only watersheds in the western continental United States that supports breeding common loons. Federal trust species in the valley include grizzly bear, gray wolf, wolverine, American marten, and Canada lynx.
NOTE: Initially, Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge and Northwest Montana Flathead County Wetland Management District were part of this planning process. Due to administrative changes, these units are now part of the National Bison Range complex.
To hear from us about this planning effort, you can get on our mailing list.
You can contact us by comment form, email, postal mail, telephone, or fax (refer to "Contacts" below).
None at this time.
Planning team leader
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303 / 236 4378 telephone
303 / 236 4792 fax
Refuge complex email
Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
Draft CCP and environmental assessment (EA) 2012 (14 MB PDF)
By section, for faster download:
Contents, Summary (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, The Refuge Complex (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Alternatives (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Affected Environment (3 MB PDF) Chapter 5, Environmental Consequences (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 6, Management Direction (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 7, Analysis of Management Alternatives for the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge (5 MB PDF)
Appendixes (1 MB PDF)
Planning process documents
Structured Decisionmaking Process for Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge 2012 (PDF)
Notice of availability of the draft CCP 2012 (PDF)
Planning update 2 2012 (PDF)
Planning update 1 2008 (PDF)
Notice of intent to develop a CCP 2008 (PDF)