Comprehensive Conservation Planning

Prairie grass against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountain Front.

The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in the recently updated CCP. The Service’s management direction for the Refuge and its effects on the human environment, are described in the CCP as well.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service manages the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex - encompassing 163,304 acres in northwestern and north-central Montana.  To address the long-term management of the refuge complex, the Service has completed a comprehensive conservation plan.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to provide the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), released late spring 2013, for the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Comprehensive Conservation Plan  sets out the management and use of Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex for 15 years. The refuge complex spans 12 counties and both sides of the Continental Divide in Montana.

The main purpose for the refuge complex is to provide habitat for migratory birds, as set out in the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.  The CCP identified the following vision for the Benton Lake NWR Complex:


 The spirit of the American West
Resonates on both sides of the
Continental Divide in the prairies,
mountains, rivers, and wetlands of the
Benton Lake National Wildlife
Refuge Complex
Here, migratory birds fill the sky,
bull trout thrive, and grizzlies and wolves
still roam. Visitors experience many of
the same landscapes that Lewis and Clark
explored on their journey through the
“Crown of the Continent.”
Conservation efforts in the
refuge complex protect
intact landscapes, manage
productive habitats, and offer people
opportunities to connect with wildlife
in solitude under Montana’s big sky.
These efforts rely on innovative
public and private partnerships,
are supported by the region’s people,
and harmonize with the
historic rural economy.



The Planning Process

Public scoping began with a Notice of Intent to prepare the draft CCP and EA which was published in the Federal Register on August 18, 2008.  Information about plan development was distributed through news releases, a published planning update, presentations to local agencies and organizations, and by holding eight public scoping meetings through June 2011.  In addition, the Service has coordinated with Federal, State and local agencies and Native American tribes.


The scoping process identified many special values of the refuge along with issues and recommendations.  Based on this information as well as on guidance from the Improvement Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and planning policy, the Service identified several key issues for the refuge complex and, specifically, for the Benton Lake Refuge to address in the CCP.


For more information and to view the Benton Lake NWR Complex CCP click here.