Evening light on far hillside with bison herd and view of Mission Valley.  Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick, USFWS

The National Bison Range, as part of the National Bison Range Complex, is currently developing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the refuge. For further information about the planning process and to learn how you can get involved, please visit the National Bison Range Complex planning website:

  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan

    Aerial view of Bison Range with Visitor Center and entrance road area in summer greenery.  NBR/USFWS photo

    We prepare comprehensive conservation plans for national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts to help fulfill the mission of the Refuge System and manage for the purposes of each refuge and district. Each 15-year comprehensive conservation plan identifies issues, goals, objectives, and strategies for management of a refuge, refuge complex, district, or district complex. The plan describes a vision for the area and gives the refuge or district manager a blueprint for management. The plan also provides you with a clear picture of what we intend to do for wildlife protection, habitat management, and visitor services. 

    The Division of Refuge Planning works with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staffs, partners, and the public to prepare comprehensive conservation plans for every national wildlife refuge and wetland management district in the Mountain–Prairie Region. Check out the link to their website to see if a plan is available for your favorite Refuge. 

    Learn More
  • Conservation Easements

    Aerial view of large number of potholes at Crow Waterfowl Production Area and surrounding Mission Valley.  NBR/USFWS photo

    The National Bison Range administers a conservation easement program in the Mission Valley to help protect wetlands and uplands. Dispersed between Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges and the Lake County units of the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District are over 6,300 acres of privately owned lands with easements. Ownership of the lands remains with the fee title owner but there are limits on subdivision and development, keeping these wetlands and uplands open for wildlife use.

    These easements are part of a wide intermountain valley that sits at the base of the Mission Mountains. The valley was shaped by glacial activity which ended approximately 12,000 years ago and lies in the center of a terminal moraine. The terrain is rolling grassland habitat interspersed with numerous pothole wetlands which often contain water throughout the year. The wetland habitat supports abundant waterfowl species such as mallards, northern shovelers, gadwalls, redheads and ruddy ducks. It has become an important breeding and staging area for a large portion of the valley. Grizzly bears will sometimes move down from the Mission Mountains to forage.

    For information about participating in the program, contact:
    National Bison Range
    406-644-2211 extension 0

  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

    Logo of the National Wildlife Refuge System, showing the blue goose symbol over green mountains with a stream.

    National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997: The NWRS Improvement Act defines a unifying mission for all refuges, including a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and requiring that each refuge be managed according to a CCP. The NWRS Improvement  Act expressly states that wildlife conservation is the priority of System lands and that the Secretary shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained. Each refuge must be managed to fulfill the specific purposes for which the refuge was established and the System mission. The first priority of each refuge is to conserve, manage, and if needed, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitats according to its purpose.

    Learn More
  • Conserving the Future

    cover of Conserving the Future planning document.  USFWS image

    The publication entitled Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s bold, new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service released Conserving the Future as the culmination of 18 months of study and public conversation about conservation and the future of the Refuge System.

    This 21st-century strategic vision for the Refuge System acknowledges the broad social, political, and economic changes that have made habitat conservation more challenging since the agency last set comprehensive goals in 1999. In the intervening 12 years, the new vision states the nation’s population has grown “larger and more diverse … and the landscape for conservation has changed—there is less undeveloped land, more invasive species, and we are experiencing the impacts of a changing climate.”

    Download and learn more about the vision document, download just the Executive Summary, or read a text-only version of the recommendations in the vision.

    Learn More