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Riparian and Wetland Habitats

Riparian areas of the refuge occupy a relatively small part of the landscape, but wildlife use these areas more than any other habitat type. Historically beaver were a dominant feature in parts of the riparian and bottomland areas of the refuge. Trapping in the area that is now the refuge probably started in the mid 1800’s and beaver populations were greatly impacted over the next 50 years. As their numbers increase, beaver dams and their impact on retaining water help shape the refuge lower small stream riparian areas as well as the lowland wetland mosaic.  

Most of the riparian streams are intermittent. Off refuge stream impoundments have impacted some stream flows especially during drier years. Dominant trees include cottonwood, willow, green ash and buffalo berry. Bird use of riparian areas, especially in years with water is amazing. Riparian areas provide crucial habitat for prairie bats and several species of bats use the stream corridors for roosting and feeding.

 Plants  Birds  Mammals  Reptiles and Amphibians 
Green Ash Sharp-tailed Grouse Red Fox Painted Turtle
Golden Currant    Bl.-capped Chickadee    Wh.-tailed Deer Boreal Chorus Frog
Buffaloberry Western Kingbird Beaver Barred Tiger Salamander
Cottonwood American Robin Cottontail Rabbit     Prairie Rattlesnake
Willow  Or.-crowned Warbler Coyote Gopher Snake (Bullsnake)
Chokecherry Long-billed Curlew Bats  
  Red-winged Blackbird      Mice and Shrews  

River Corridor
Along with the smaller riparian areas that flow into the Missouri River, the Missouri River corridor itself is extremely valuable to wildlife. Vegetation along the Missouri River corridor is a mosaic of plant communities. Forests of cottonwood and willow, shrubby areas of greasewood and sage are commonly found. Some areas have a shrubby understory (Wood’s rose is a common understory plant) while others have a grassy/forb understory. Some areas of the river corridor are full of bird life while others only have a few species. Riparian areas do provide crucial habitat for prairie bats and several species of bats use the river corridor for roosting and feeding: Townsend’s Big-eared bat, big-brown bat, hoary bat, silver-haired bat, small-footed myotis, long-eared myotis, spotted bat, eastern red bat, fringed myotis, Yuma myotis and long-legged myotis.

 Plants  Birds  Mammals  Reptiles and Amphibians 
Willow House Wren Bats Spiny Softshell Turtle
Redosier Dogwood    Red-eyed Vireo Wh.-tailed Deer Prairie Rattlesnake
West. Wheatgrass   Bl.-billed Cuckoo Mice and Shrews   Gopher Snake (Bullsnake)
Am. licorice Spotted Sandpiper Cottontail rabbit Gartersnakes
Silver Sage Yellow-breast. Chat Beaver Boreal Chorus Frog
Greasewood Bl.-headed Grosbeak    Red Fox   
Cottonwood Lazuli Bunting Striped Skunk  

The nearly 1,520 miles of shoreline along Fort Peck Lake constantly changes due to fluctuating lake levels. The Corps of Engineers has primary jurisdiction for the management of the lakeshore areas. Nevertheless, this dynamic habitat is important to wildlife and species such as piping plovers and least terns are totally dependent on the shoreline for nesting and food.

Plants  Birds  Mammals        Reptiles and Amphibians 
Sedges Bald Eagle Bats Pacific Tree Frog
Annual Forbs Osprey Elk Boreal Chorus Frog
Submerged Cottonwoods      Piping Plover       Mule Deer      Great Plains Toad
  Least Tern Raccoon Garter Snakes
  Gulls   Painted Turtle


Last Updated: May 20, 2013
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