U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2011.




Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
194 Bowdoin Auto Tour Road
Malta, Montana 59538

406 / 654 2863




Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Complex



The comprehensive conservation plan sets out the management and use of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Complex for 15 years.

The refuge complex in north-central Montana is important to waterfowl and other migrating birds. The following units of the refuge complex are part of this planning effort:

  • Black Coulee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bowdoin Wetland Management District
  • Creedman Coulee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Lake Thibadeau National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge complex is in the Prairie Pothole Region, identified as one of the top priority geographical conservation areas in North America. With an overriding purpose of providing habitat for migratory birds, the refuge complex encompasses nearly 85,000 acres of grassland and wetland habitats.

Mixed-grass prairie, dense nesting cover, shrubland, freshwater wetland, and saline wetland provide habitat for a large variety of animals, particularly migratory birds. This quality and diversity of habitats has made the refuge complex a valuable research site for studying migratory birds, plant communities, and grassland and wetland management.

More than 25,000 visitors each year enjoy the auto tour route, observation areas, and exhibits. The refuge complex headquarters are near Malta, Montana.

Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge

  • Established in 1936.
  • Comprises 15,551 acres.
  • Located 7 miles northeast of Malta, Montana, in Phillips County.
Plan cover with photo of pricklypear cactus in grassland bordering Lake Bowdoin.

Bowdoin Wetland Management District

  • Established in 1958.
  • Covers about 60,000 acres.
  • Located across Blaine, Hill, Phillips, and Valley Counties in north-central Montana.

The district has nine waterfowl production areas, along with more than 160 grassland and wetland conservation easements.

Black Coulee, Creedman Coulee, Hewitt Lake, and Lake Thibadeau National Wildlife Refuges

  • Established in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
  • Covers 9,578 acres.
  • Located in Blaine, Hill, and Phillips Counties.

These four satellite refuges—also called limited-interest refuges—are primarily private lands (80 percent) under by a refuge easement or flowage easement, or both. The landowners control access to their lands within these refuge boundaries.


Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
CCP 2011 (21 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents, Summary (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, The Refuge Complex (7 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Refuge Complex Resources and Description (7 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Management Direction (5 MB PDF)
Appendixes (1 MB PDF)

Draft CCP and EA 2011 (16 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents, Summary (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, The Refuge Complex (5 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Alternatives (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Affected Environment (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 5, Environmental Consequences (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 6, Analysis of Salinity (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 7, Implementation of the Proposed Action, the Draft CCP (2 MB PDF)
Appendixes (1 MB PDF)