The Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District is located in south central Montana and is bounded on the north by the Missouri River Breaks and on the south by the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The district includes five counties – Golden Valley, Musselshell, Petroleum, Stillwater, and Yellowstone and is within the Northern Great Plains. It is a semi-arid region with relatively few natural wetland basins. A majority of the uplands remain native mixed-grass prairie withand/or greasewood present in various densities. The interface where sagebrush and wetland ecosystems merge provides a unique habitat transition and can be seen throughout the District.
Wetland Management Districts are little known but very important components of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Wetland Management Districts consist of Waterfowl Production Areas and several types of easements.
Waterfowl Production Areas
Waterfowl Production Areas are purchased and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide nesting habitat for waterfowl. These areas are concentrated where the ducks are - in the Prairie Pothole Region in the northern Great Plains. The three Waterfowl Production Areas in this district are Clarks Fork, Spidel, and Tew Waterfowl Production Areas.
Money from Duck stamp sales and the Land and Water Conservation Fund are also used to buy grassland and wetland easements which pay landowners to permanently protect grasslands and wetlands without relinquishing ownership. Conservation easements are an effective way to preserve vital habitats for wildlife and future generations of landowners, hunters, birdwatchers, anglers, and anyone that relies on our natural resources for the beauty, recreation, and ecosystem services they provide.
The Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District contains refuge and flowage easements, Farmer’s Home Administration (FmHA) easements, and two State-issued grazing leases.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.