Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge is nestled in the Pleasant Valley, which was formed during the last glacial period in North America. Pleasant Valley sits atop a vast, relatively uniform expanse of the Belt Rock formation called the Purcell Alticline. Pleasant Valley is located in the Salish Mountains among medium-elevation mountains such as Ashley Mountain (6,300 feet) to the north and Murr Peak (6,763 feet) to the south, near the confluence of the boundaries of the Flathead, Kootenai, and Lolo national forests. The Whitefish Mountains lie northeast of the refuge, beyond which Glacier National Park and the Continental Divide are found. The Purcell Mountains are directly west, and Little Bitterroot and Flathead lakes lie southeast of the refuge. Further east are the breathtaking Mission and Swan mountain ranges. The Cabinet and Bitterroot mountains are west of the Refuge.
Location and Contact Information
Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge is a breathtakingly beautiful area nestled in Pleasant Valley in northwestern Montana. It can best be described as a long valley crossed by Pleasant Valley Creek and encompassing an ever expanding Dahl Lake. The Refuge contains wetlands, lushcorridors, uplands dominated by Palouse prairie and tame grasses, and temperate forests dominated by lodgepole pine, Douglas fir and larch. Many of the existing wetlands in the Refuge were altered by water impoundments and drainage ditches before the establishment of the Refuge. Streams were channelized for flood protection and irrigation and old growth forests were clear cut. The overall resource management plan for the Refuge is to restore and maintain refuge habitats to their historic full potential.
What We Do
The story of the establishment of Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge begins 50 miles away along the north shore of Flathead Lake. Wetlands on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands literally “lost ground” due to Flathead Lake water level fluctuations caused by the operations of Kerr Dam. Federal law requires human-caused wetland losses be mitigated, restored, or replaced. Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge was purchased to provide replacement habitat where wetlands will be protected and enhanced for use by wildlife now and in the future.
Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge was established primarily for migratory birds and their foraging and nesting habitats. Like many other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges, this Refuge was also established for the conservation and enhancement of all fish and wildlife resources including endangered or threatened species.