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 AshSharp-tailed GrouseRed FoxPainted Turtle
Golden Currant   Bl.-capped Chickadee   Wh.-tailed DeerBoreal Chorus Frog
BuffaloberryWestern KingbirdBeaverBarred Tiger Salamander
CottonwoodAmerican RobinCottontail Rabbit    Prairie Rattlesnake
Willow Or.-crowned WarblerCoyoteGopher Snake (Bullsnake)
ChokecherryLong-billed CurlewBats 
 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 
WillowHouse WrenBatsSpiny Softshell Turtle
Redosier Dogwood   Red-eyed VireoWh.-tailed DeerPrairie Rattlesnake
West. Wheatgrass  Bl.-billed CuckooMice and Shrews  Gopher Snake (Bullsnake)
Am. licoriceSpotted SandpiperCottontail rabbitGartersnakes
Silver SageYellow-breast. ChatBeaverBoreal Chorus Frog
GreasewoodBl.-headed Grosbeak   Red Fox  
CottonwoodLazuli BuntingStriped 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 
SedgesBald EagleBatsPacific Tree Frog
Annual ForbsOspreyElkBoreal Chorus Frog
Submerged Cottonwoods     Piping Plover      Mule Deer     Great Plains Toad
 Least TernRaccoonGarter Snakes
 Gulls Painted Turtle