Bitterroot River Important Bird Area

Bitterroot River Important Bird Area 495x329

 "Riparian areas and wetlands occupy less than 4% of Montana’s land surface, and less than 1% throughout the West, yet they support more than 80% of the bird species found in Montana" (text from Bitterroot River IBA brochure-Bitterroot Audubon).

Important Bird Areas (IBA) are a program of BirdLife International. This organization is a partnership consortium of many global conservation organizations. IBA's do one or more of the following:
• Have one or more globally threatened species
• Are a site that holds a series of restricted-range species or biome-restricted species
• Have exceptional large numbers of migratory or congregatory species
Birds are also biodiversity indicators for other animal groups and plants. Though IBA networks are defined by bird fauna, the conservation of IBA sites also ensures the survival of a number of other associated animals and plants.

Riparian Habitat at Wildlife Viewing AreaThe National Audubon Society has implemented the IBA program in the U.S. Drilling down from the national level, the Montana Audubon (state Audubon chapter) along with the the local Audubon chapters of the Bitterroot and Five Valley's have played large roles in the application and designation of the Bitterroot River IBA.  

Bitterroot River Flooding at Willdlife Viewing Area in 2009The boundary for this IBA is the 500 year floodplain for the Bitterroot River from the north end of Hamilton to the south side of Lolo. The 30 mile stretch of river designated is dominated by private lands; State land holdings, conservation easements and the Refuge make up the balance of properties contained therein. The key species (out of 240 + species of birds) of the Bitterroot River IBA are also identified and in many cases are priority species, targeted management goals as identified in the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Though, the overwhelming highlight of both is the recognition of the value of riparian and wetland habitat. A Bitterroot River IBA brochure has been developed by Bitterroot Audubon that includes a map and descriptive text.