Northwest Montana Wetland Management District
Mountain-Prairie Region



Contacts for the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District – Lake County Units:

Contact: Refuge Manager
Phone: 406/644-2211
Fax: 406/644-2661

Address: National Bison Range
58355 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT  59824


Contacts for the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District – Flathead County Units:

Refuge Manager at Lost Trail NWR
Fax: 406/858-2218


The Northwest Montana Wetland Management District, established in 1970, is located throughout Lake Counties in northwestern Montana.  The Wetland District consists of 9 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) and the Conservation Easement Program.  Also within this boundary, and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are the National Bison Range and the Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges.

Lake County WPAs and Conservation Easements are located from 3 to 9 miles north and northwest of the National Bison Range.

Establishing Purpose:

Lands were acquired for migratory bird use subject to all provisions of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715-715r), except the inviolate sanctuary provisions due to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718).


Lake County WPAs:

Duck Haven - 719 acres
Herak - 80 acres
Anderson - 163 acres
Kickinghorse - 169 acres
Montgomery - 80 acres
Johnson 80 - 80 acres
Sandsmark - 400 acres
Crow - 1,549 acres
Ereaux - 28 acres

Conservation Easements:

Lake County - 6,300 acres

Landscape Characteristics

  • Located in the Flathead and Mission Valley floor consisting of intermountain grasslands interspersed with wetlands in high densities.

  • The 100,000 year Wisconsin glaciation carved stream valleys and formed the moraine and glacial outwash sections of the valley floor.

  • Flathead WPA consists of 7 miles of lake shoreline and upland along the northern end of Flathead Lake, including remnants of A delta@ islands at the mouth of Flathead River.

  • Grassland habitat consists of introduced grasses and dense nesting cover. Some areas are maintained in wheat and grain as food plots for migratory waterfowl and to clean up areas from weeds prior to planting back to grasses.


  • The wetland habitat supports abundant waterfowl species such as Canada geese, mallards, redheads, pintails, American widgeon, northern shovelers, blueB and greenB winged teal.

  • The upland area supports ringB necked pheasants and gray partridge and is nesting habitat for savannah sparrows, meadowlarks and song sparrows.

  • One of the WPAs supports a peregrine falcon hacking tower which has had a nesting pair of birds for the past ten years. Young falcons are regularly fledged from this nest.

  • These areas support high nesting concentrations of short-eared owls and northern harriers, plus are important wintering areas for rough-legged hawks, red-tailed hawks, and northern goshawks.

  • Shorebirds use the WPAs during migration and for nesting. These include killdeer, American avocet, black-necked stilts, Wilson= s phalaropes and yellowlegs.

  • Smaller mammals include muskrat, striped skunk, mink, badgers, meadow voles and porcupines.


  • All WPAs are smaller tracts of wetlands and uplands purchased with funds from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps under the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program.

  • Units that contain habitat for waterfowl are purchased from willing sellers when money and acreage are available. Units are sometimes expanded as opportunities arise.

  • Dates of initial purchase:

    Lake County WPAs:

    Duck Haven - March, 1988
    Herak - November, 1975
    Ereaux - 1998
    Kickinghorse - February, 1991
    Montgomery - November, 1974
    Sandsmark - October, 1975
    Crow - December, 1989
    Johnson 80 - December, 1989
    Anderson - February, 1991

    Conservation Easements: Lake County - 1994 - ongoing


  • Lake County units are managed by National Bison Range personnel and units in Flathead County are managed by an Assistant Refuge Manager stationed at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Conservation easements are tracts of land where ownership remain with fee title owner, but the rights to subdivide or develop the tract are purchased by the Service with Land and Water Conservation Funds and Migratory Bird monies.

Cultural Resources

  • The WPAs are open to public hunting of waterfowl and upland in game birds accordance with applicable Federal, State and Tribal regulations.

  • Fishing and trapping are allowed in accordance with applicable State and Tribal regulations.< Nature observation and wildlife photography are encouraged.

  • Smith Lake WPA is listed as a Watchable Wildlife Site in the Montana Wildlife Viewing Guide. It is considered an excellent viewing site for waterfowl and shorebirds.

  • WPAs in Flathead County are closed to all public access from March 1 to July 15 to reduce disturbance to nesting birds.

Other Uses

  • Farming, haying and grazing are allowed on the WPAs under Special-Use Permits.
Last updated: September 10, 2015