U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2004.



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


406 / 644 2211





Land Protection Plan

Centennial Valley Conservation Easement Program



Land protection planning for the Centennial Valley Conservation Easement Program included the following:

  • Environmental assessment for the acquisition of conservation easements.
  • Land protection plan that describes the anticipated acquisition priorities for the easement program.

Southwestern Montana's remote Centennial Valley encompasses some of the highest quality remaining intermountain wetlands in the West. Lying east of the Continental Divide, the valley is near the uppermost reach of the Missouri River drainage. Wetlands and riparian areas support a suite of plants and animals, while the valley's sandhills, grasslands, and sagebrush uplands support an entirely different suite of plants and animals. This naturally diverse area hosts more than 260 species of birds, with the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, sage-grouse, and trumpeter swan being the most notable. Common mammal species include pronghorn, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, and red fox. Streams in the valley are home to Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout. The valley has more than 40 plant species of concern including sand wildrye and Platte cinquefoil.

The Centennial Valley remains biologically intact and has not been converted to housing development. However, the rural character of valley is likely to undergo substantial change in the next 10– 20 years. Through the environmental analysis process, the Service established the Centennial Valley Conservation Easement Program. The purpose of the conservation easement program is to maintain the integrity of wildlife habitat on a landscape scale by helping to maintain open space in a rural setting. This project helps protect the valley from drastic change caused by widespread, unplanned residential or commercial development.

  • Established in 2004.
  • Comprises a 158,972-acre area, within which the Service will acquire conservation easements on about 42,000 acres of private land near the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 28 miles east of Monida, Montana, in Beaverhead County. 

The land protection plan sets the following guidance:

  • Base acquisition priorities for conservation easements on biological significance, existing and potential threats, significance to refuge management, and existing commitments to protect land.
Image of the plan cover.

  • Acquire conservation easements starting with the priority 1 lands—uplands, wetlands, and riparian habitats associated with Red Rock Creek and its tributaries in Alaska Basin.
  • Monitor purchased easements to ensure properties do not undergo subdivision or conversion of native grassland to cropland.
  • Accomplish habitat improvements through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
  • Administer the easement program under Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

The Service is acquiring conservation easements in the Centennial Valley by donations and through purchase, primarily of quality wetland, grassland, and mountain habitats and for overall protection of intact intermountain landscapes. Conservation easements are designed primarily to maintain habitat integrity and not necessarily to change management of private lands. Furthermore, the Service views the Centennial Valley Easement Program as compatible with current ranching management practices such as grazing. Easement contracts specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Easement land remains in private ownership; therefore, property tax and invasive plant control remains the responsibility of the landowner, who also retains control of public access to the land.


Environmental assessment (EA) and
land protection plan (LPP)

EA and LPP 2004 (11 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Environmental assessment (EA), chapter 1, purpose (5 MB PDF)
EA, chapter 2, alternatives (6 MB PDF)
EA, chapter 3, affected environment (PDF)
EA, chapter 4, environmental consequences (PDF)
EA, chapter 5, coordination (PDF)
EA, appendices (PDF)