About Us

With Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge at its center, a circle of protected habitat for wildlife spreads into the Mission Valley. The Refuge’s 2,062 acres is surrounded by 3,420 acres of Montana State Wildlife Management Areas, approximately 3,000 acres of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal lands, 3,160 acres of Federal Waterfowl Production Areas and 6,400 acres of Fish and Wildlife Service conservation easements that prevent housing development and wetland drainage. 

Our Mission

Northwest Montana Wetland Management District Vision:

Relax and take a deep breath while you step back in time to reflect on what was, what is, and what is yet to come. Immerse yourself in the inter-montane valleys of northwestern Montana shaped by glacial forces and steeped in rich cultural history. This is a special landscape important to people age after age, where we pay tribute to the persons and peoples who set aside the lands, conserved the wildlife and plants, and were stewards of various components that make up the Complex. Visitors from all over the world travel to the Complex, which seeks to provide an opportunity to learn and experience varied habitats, abundant wildlife, and the natural beauty of these lands. The units of the Complex safeguard these values and preserve connectivity across the landscape, forming continuity through time for future generations to treasure. Each unit is unique, and collectively they have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the Complex and the Refuge System. Partners foster cultural and natural resources conservation where the cultural history is expressed across the landscape. Unique opportunities to work with partners benefit many of the units within the Flathead Indian Reservation and other units located within traditional homelands of the Séliš, Qĺispé and Ksanka Tribes.

Our History

Lands within the Refuge boundary were first withdrawn in 1910 for an irrigation reservoir as part of the Flathead Irrigation Project. A 1948 Act of Congress reimbursed the CSKT $400,000 for all past and future uses of certain reservation lands for physical works and facilities of the Flathead Project irrigation and power systems, and for the Ninepipe and Pablo NWRs. The payment included $50,644 for the permanent easement at Ninepipe NWR. 

The 1948 Act also stated that the Tribes "shall have the right to use such Tribal lands, and to grant leases or concessions thereon, for any and all uses not inconsistent with such permanent easement.” The Tribes manage the fishery resources in the Ninepipe Reservoir.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District as part of the Western Montana National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas, or other refuge conservation areas that are managed from a central location. Refuges are grouped into complexes because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. 

For the Western Montana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the project leader is stationed at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and oversees general management of the Complex. Refuge managers oversee the operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals support all refuges within the complex.

The District headquarters is located at PO Box 547 Ronan, MT, 59864 or 406-750-8242.

The Complex headquarters is located at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 922 Bootlegger Trail, Great Falls MT 59404.

The refuges in the Western Montana National Wildlife Refuge Complex include: