About the Complex

Aerial In Summer 512 x 385

Under seemingly limitless skies, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Complex provides vast expanses of gently rolling native mixed-prairie, dotted with an array of diverse wetlands.

A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location.  Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs.  Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex. 

The Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Complex is within the Prairie Pothole Region of the Great Plains. The refuge complex covers 84,724 acres in north-central Montana and spreads across Blaine, Hill, Phillips, and Valley Counties.  With its headquarters near the town of Malta, the refuge complex comprises of the following units:

  • Bowdoin NWR
  • Black Coulee, Creedman Coulee, Hewitt Lake, and Lake Thibadeau National Wildlife Refuges (unstaffed satellite refuges)
  • Bowdoin Wetland Management District - nine waterfowl production areas, refuge and flowage easements, and numerous wetland and grassland conservation easements

On August 31, 2011 the U.S. fish & Wildlife Service finalized a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for the Bowdoin NWR Complex to provide a foundation for the management and use of these lands for the next 15 years.  The purpose of the final CCP is to identify the role the Bowdoin NWR Complex plays in support of the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System and to provide long-term guidance for managing programs and activities.   The CCP specifies the goals and objectives necessary to achieve the vision and purposes of the Bowdoin NWR Complex.  The CCP is needed to help the Service achieve the following:

  • Communication with the public and other partners in efforts to carry out the mission of the Refuge System
  • A clear statement of direction for managing the refuge complex
  • Providing neighbors, visitors, and government officials with an understanding of the Service's management actions on and around the refuge complex
  • Management actions by the Service that are consistent with the mandates of the Improvement act (National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997)
  • Management of the refuge complex that is consistent with Federal, State, and county plans, as appropriate
  • A basis for development of budget request for the refuge complex's operation, maintenance, and capital improvement needs

Sustaining the Nation's fish and wildlife resources is a task that can be accomplished only through the combined efforts of governments, businesses, and private citizens.