U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2009.




Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
27820 Southside Centennial Road
Lima, Montana 59739

406 / 276 3536




Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge



The comprehensive conservation plan sets the management and use of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge for 15 years. Located in Beaverhead County in Montana’s high-elevation Centennial Valley, the refuge has a unique combination of habitats including wetlands, rivers, forests, and vegetated sandhills.

  • Established in 1935.
  • Comprises 48,956 acres, which includes the 32,350-acre Red Rock Lakes Wilderness (66 percent of the refuge).
  • Oversees 20,219 acres of conservation easements (established to prevent the surrounding valley from subdivision and development).
  • Located in the southwestern tip of Montana, 28 miles east of Monida.

The purposes for the refuge follow:

  • "As a refuge and breeding ground for wild birds and animals." (Executive Order 7023)
  • "As an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds." (Migratory Bird Conservation Act)
  • "For (a) incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational development, (b) the protection of natural resources, (c) the conservation of endangered species or threatened species." (Refuge Recreation Act)
  • "The conservation of the wetlands of the Nation in order to maintain the public benefits they provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in various migratory bird treaties and conventions." (Emergency Wetlands Resources Act)
  • "For the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources." (Fish and Wildlife Act)
  • "For the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave [wilderness areas] unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness." (Wilderness Act)

Red Rock Creek flows through the Centennial Valley and has created the Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake marshlands. The Centennial Mountains border the refuge to the south and catch the winter snows that replenish the refuge's lakes and marshes.

Plan cover with sagebrush, lake, and mountain habitats.

Plan cover showing the variety of habitats and wildlife at the refuge.

This habitat complex of wetland, shrub land, grassland, and upland forest supports a diversity of migratory birds and resident wildlife such as swans and other waterfowl, shorebirds, badger, moose, and elk. More than 12,000 visitors each year enjoy the beautiful scenery, nature trails, and abundant wildlife found in this remote valley.

Portions of the refuge are designated as a "national natural landmark" because of its relatively undisturbed, high-altitude ecosystem types, and the Douglas-fir forest on Sheep Mountain is a "research natural area." Furthermore, the National Audubon Society has designated the refuge as an "important bird area."

Major actions in the comprehensive conservation plan follow:

  • Maintain high productivity in wetlands to benefit nesting and migrating trumpeter swans and other waterfowl.
  • Restore two modified wetlands (32 acres) back to a free-flowing, historical spawning stream for the lower 48 states’ last known population of adfluvial Arctic grayling (lake inhabitant that breeds in a river).
  • Increase opportunities for environmental education and interpretation to better orient visitors to the values of the refuge and the Centennial Valley.
  • Provide and expand opportunities for quality hunting and fishing experiences while ensuring that trumpeter swans and other priority migratory birds have protected resting areas.


Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
CCP 2009 (48 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Approval, contents, summary (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, introduction (9 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, the refuge (9 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, refuge resources and description (21 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, management direction (8 MB PDF)
Appendix (1 MB PDF)

Draft CCP and environmental assessment (EA)
Draft CCP and EA 2008 (12 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents, summary (PDF)
Chapter 1, introduction (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, the refuge (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, alternatives (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, affected environment (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 5, environmental consequences (PDF)
Chapter 6, implementation of the proposed action (1 MB PDF)
Appendixes (PDF)