Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is a representation of the diverse native wildlife habitat once found abundantly between the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains and along the ever-changing Bitterroot River.

Visit Us

The Refuge encompasses a portion of the Bitterroot River and is located between the scenic Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. This floodplain refuge provides a diverse mosaic of western mountain valley habitats including gallery and riverfront forest, wet meadow, wetlands, and grassland benches...perfect material for creating or designing visual products for you to enjoy, utilize or learn from.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, established on February 4, 1964, is a 2,800-acre refuge located in the Bitterroot River Valley of southwest Montana. The Refuge is approximately 2 miles north of Stevensville and 25 miles south of Missoula in Ravalli County, Montana. Elevation ranges from about 3,225 feet on the north end of the Refuge to about 3,314 feet on the southern end. This floodplain refuge provides a diverse mosaic of western mountain valley habitats including gallery and riverfront forest, wet meadow, wetlands, and grassland benches.

      What We Do

      For use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds. As suitable for:

      (1) incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational development

      (2) the protection of natural resources

      (3) the conservation of endangered species or threatened species.

      Our Organization

      In The Community

      The Refuge is 'in the community' on many levels. One way of measuring the Refuge "in the community" is economically. Erin Carver and James Caudill (both USFWS employees) recently published (2013) the Banking on Nature report . Their summary findings for the system of 560+ refuges: 

      •  Recreational visits to national wildlife refuges generate substantial economic activity. In FY 2011, 46.5 million people visited refuges. Their spending generated $2.4 billion of sales in regional economies. As this spending flowed through the U.S. economy, over 35,000 people were employed and $792.7 million in employment income was generated.  
      • About 72 percent of total expenditures are generated by non-consumptive activities on refuges. Fishing accounted for 21 percent and hunting 7 percent. Local residents accounted for 23 percent of expenditures while visitors coming from outside the local area accounted for 77 percent.  
      • Refuge recreational spending generated about $342.9 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state and Federal level. 

      Obviously, the economics puts a dollar figure on broad recreational activities. Drilling down to specifics, the Refuge integrates with communities in a variety of ways. The Refuge coordinates with schools on a statewide basis the Junior Duck Stamp program which provides curriculum to "connect students with nature through the arts". Refuge Volunteer Rebecca Ames goes into Bitterroot Valley elementary school classrooms introducing children to our locally common plants and animals. Bitterroot Valley high school students are employed for the summer through the Youth Conservation Corps.

      The Refuge also participates in community-based special events, such as: Creamery Picnic, Scarecrow Festival, Bitterroot Birding and Nature Festival and Welcome Back Waterfowl Day. Montana Department of Tourism, Stevensville Main Street and Stevensville Civic club meetings have been attended by staff. Staff also do wildlife presentations to a spectrum of other civic organizations. There is coordination with Ravalli County Weed District and the Police Departments for the County and Stevensville. The culture and history of the Bitterroot Valley, e.g. the Salish, Corps of Discovery, Nez Perce, Plummer gang, founding of Stevensville, obviously encompasses the Refuge and we also share in this heritage.

      Our Species

      Our Library

      Final Lee Metcalf Barrier Removal EA with Appendices.pdf

      This final Environmental Assessment presents a proposal to improve fish passage and riparian habitat on North Burnt Fork Creek as it passes through Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

      Draft Environmental Assessment - North Burnt Fork Creek Restoration - Lee Meetcalf NWR

      Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with Trout Unlimited and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, has released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) proposing to remove a barrier culvert and open approximately 2.5 miles of stream habitat on North Burnt Fok Creek as it passes...