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The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge’s Wetland Management District is comprised of three Waterfowl Production Areas and numerous conservation easements. The Waterfowl Production Areas are open to hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation but the easements are closed to the public. 

Wildlife commonly observed on the District include those most tolerant of alkali soils, such as many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, upland game birds, songbirds, and small and big game. Wildlife species include waterfowl, pronghorn, and prairie dogs. Many other small mammals exist along with horned lizards (often referred to as horned toads), and rattlesnakes. Please visit our wildlife and habitat section and visitor activities page for more information.

What to Bring

Binoculars, a backpack, and water are all essential items to bring any time you venture out to recreate on any public land. Additional helpful items are boots to protect your feet from prickly pear cactus, weather-appropriate gear, and bug repellant for the seasonally plentiful mosquitoes found on the Waterfowl Production Areas.

General Travel

As with traveling in any remote area, please keep emergency supplies, a full spare tire, and an eye out for changing weather or roads conditions in order to stay safe while enjoying these places. No off road travel is permitted and prohibited by federal law. Please stay on established routes and roads.

Clark’s Fork Waterfowl Production Area

The Clark’s Fork Waterfowl Production Area is a 271-acre tract of land located along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. This WPA has 1.5 miles of river frontage. After acquiring the tract through the Farmer’s Home Administration, the Service coordinated a wetland creation project with Ducks Unlimited and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The wetland is 66 acres in size and is surrounded by excellent dense nesting cover (a mixture of grasses and legumes which supply cover for nesting female ducks). The narrowleaf cottonwood/redosier dogwood community type along the river attracts a wide diversity of wildlife providing excellent observation opportunities. Waterfowl, upland game birds (sharp-tailed grouse and pheasants), white-tailed deer, and numerous other non-game species can be observed either year-round or seasonally. Unusual species documented on this WPA include – a nesting pair of greater sandhill cranes, a bull moose, a black bear that fed on carp for two-weeks in the river, trumpeter swans (likely from Yellowstone National Park), and a greater egret.

Access into the Waterfowl Production Area is by foot only. Please park in the designated parking area.

Spidel Waterfowl Production Area

Acquired in 1980, Spidel Waterfowl Production Area is located 3 miles northeast of Broadview, MT in Golden Valley and Yellowstone counties and is managed by the Service for waterfowl production. This 1,246-acre Waterfowl Production Area contains 700 acres of drained wetland. The wetland acreage was drained years ago by previous owners in an effort to increase crop production. Despite the reduced habitat value of the wetland, large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds can still be found at Spidel WPA and it is a locally popular area to observe black-necked stilts. The Service plans to restore the wetland in the future in the hopes that it will impound enough water to assure brood survival over the summer.

Access into this Waterfowl Production Area is by foot only. Please park in the designated parking area.

Tew Waterfowl Production Area

This 692-acre Waterfowl Production Area is located 15 miles northeast of Broadview in Musselshell County. It is one of a few areas in central Montana with natural temporary and seasonal wetland basins. The six wetland basins are surrounded by uplands that have been seeded to dense nesting cover (a mixture of grasses and legumes which supply cover for nesting female ducks). When it is wet, this WPA provides excellent nesting and brood rearing habitat for waterfowl and other game and non-game species of wildlife.

Access into this Waterfowl Production Area is by foot only. Please park in the designated parking area.

Activities

The Wetland Management District provides a variety of recreational opportunities for any visitor.

Related Documents

The Wetland Management District map shows the three Waterfowl Production Areas as well as unstaffed National Wildlife Refuges that are part of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Wetland Management District map

Shows Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District inluding locations of satellite refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).

Rules and Policies

The regulations below apply to Tew, Spidel and Clark’s Fork Waterfowl Production Areas.

Hunting, Trapping and Firearms
Hunting for big game, waterfowl and upland game birds in compliance with all applicable State hunting regulations is permitted. 

Trapping is permitted on Waterfowl Production Areas in compliance with all state regulations.

Blinds

Portable blinds, tree stands and other personal property used for wildlife observation, photography or hunting must be removed each day.

Non-toxic Shot  

Steel or other non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds. Possession of lead shot in the field is prohibited.  

Firearms

Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge Systems lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with a legal hunt for which the hunter is licensed. Firearms or bows may not be discharged at any other time. 

Target shooting is prohibited.

Fishing and Boating

Fishing, in compliance with all applicable State regulations, is allowed except in the wetland at Clark’s Fork WPA.

Non-motorized boats are allowed on the wetlands for hunting but they must be hand-carried into the WPAs.

Camping and Hiking

Camping and fires are prohibited on the WPAs.

Hiking is allowed throughout all WPAs.

Collection of Wildlife, Natural Items and Artifacts

Collecting any wildlife species is prohibited; this includes but is not limited to, snakes, lizards, turtles and their eggs.

Collection of shed antlers, skulls or any natural items is prohibited.

Do not remove cultural items or artifacts.

Locations

Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District
C/O Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge 333 Airport Road Lewistown, MT 59457
Driving Directions

Clark’s Fork Waterfowl Production Area

 Clark’s Fork WPA is located 28 miles south of Laurel, Montana and approximately 1.5 miles northeast of Bridger, Montana. From Bridger, drive north 0.5 mile on Highway 310. Turn east on a gravel road (Teesdale Lane) for 0.5 mile; the road jogs north and ends at the parking lot. The road into the WPA is an all-weather gravel surface but snow may prohibit travel into the unit during winter.

 

Spidel Waterfowl Production Area

Spidel WPA is 31 miles northwest of Billings, MT and located approximately 2 miles northeast of Broadview, Montana. From Broadview, turn east on 21 Mile Road, and drive 0.5 mile. Then turn north on graveled Cemetery Road for 1.5 miles to reach the WPA. Wet weather can make the gravel road impassable with very little rainfall so please watch for changing weather conditions.

 

Tew Waterfowl Production Area

Tew WPA is 43 miles northwest of Billings, MT and is located approximately 12 miles northeast of Broadview, Montana. From Broadview, turn east on 21 Mile Road, and drive 7.5 miles. Then turn north on Oswald Road, and drive 4 miles. From Oswald Road, turn east onto Daily Road, and drive 4.5 miles to the WPA. Wet weather can make any of these gravel roads or trails impassable with very little rainfall, so please watch for changing weather conditions.