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Land Protection Plan

Swan Valley Conservation Area—Montana

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Plan cover with photo of the Swan Valley and surrounding mountains.

The Swan Valley Conservation Area is a conservation strategy to protect one of the last undeveloped, low-elevation, coniferous forest ecosystems in western Montana.

  • Authorized in 2010.
  • Comprises a project area of 187,400 acres on the valley floor of the 469,000-acre Swan River watershed.
  • Potential protection of 10,000 acres with conservation easements and up to 1,000 acres in fee title adjacent to Swan River National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Located in northwestern Montana in Lake and Flathead Counties.

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan in 2010.


Address

Swan Valley Conservation Area
c/o Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex
922 Bootlegger Trail
Great Falls, Montana 59404


District Telephone

406 / 727 7400

Email

bentonlake@fws.gov

District Website

Benton Lake WMD

Swan Valley supports a variety of fish and wildlife. Federal trust species include (1) grizzly bear, gray wolf, wolverine, American marten, and Canada lynx, (2) migratory birds such as harlequin duck, black tern, and peregrine falcon, and (3) native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout (salmon family).

Wetland complexes are important breeding habitat for 20 species of waterfowl including lesser scaup, wood duck, and cinnamon teal. This valley is one of the only watersheds in the western continental United States that supports breeding common loons.

Swan Valley—situated between roadless areas in the Glacier National Park–Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Mission Mountains Wilderness, and the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness Complex—connects the Canadian Rockies with the central Rockies of Idaho and Wyoming.

The Service will protect this avenue of connectivity by strategic purchase of conservation easements on private lands nestled between the Bob Marshall and Mission Mountains Wildernesses.


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  • Base acquisition priorities for conservation easements on the threat of development, connectivity to other protected lands, and quality of habitat for trust species such as grizzly bear.
  • Acquire conservation easements from willing sellers only. Use no fee-title acquisition.
  • Closely cooperate with partners to ensure successful protection of wildlife habitat and natural resources.
  • Manage the easement program as part of the Benton Lake Wetland Management District, administered by the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Easement contracts specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Contracts prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland, and establishment of game farms.

Easement land remains in private ownership. Therefore, property tax and invasive plant control remain the responsibility of the landowner, who also retains control of public access to the land. Contracts do not restrict grazing on easement land.

You can find more information about the conservation area under comprehensive conservation planning for the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

You can find more information about the conservation area under comprehensive conservation planning for the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex.


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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: November 14, 2019
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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