Northwest Montana Wetland Management District

The Northwest Montana Wetland Management District which is home to the following: Ninepipe, Pablo, Swan, Swan River, and Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuges, Lake County, Flathead County, and Cruz Waterfowl Protection Areas. 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.

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The Flathead Valley in northwest Montana starts north of the Canadian border and ends close to modern day Missoula, Montana. Geologists call this large straight area surrounded by steep mountains on both sides the “Rocky Mountain Trench”. This deep, long “trench” was formed by glaciers during past ice ages and was once filled with ice that slowly pushed south. As the glaciers melted, scattered lakes and ponds were left behind throughout the Flathead Valley. Although many of these glacial lakes and ponds with their corresponding uplands have since been ditched and drained, some still remain providing important habitat for migrating and nesting waterfowl as well as other water and shore birds.  

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      Northwest Montana Wetland Management District Flathead County consists of five separate Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) located in the central and west-central portion of Flathead county: Batavia WPA, Blasdel WPA, Flathead WPA, McGregor Meadows WPA and Smith Lake WPA. Northwest Montana Wetland Management District Flathead County is managed by Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge.

      The National Wildlife Refuge System includes several thousand Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) that preserve wetlands and grasslands critical to waterfowl and other wildlife. Providing vital breeding and nesting habitat to millions of waterfowl and other water dependent birds, these small depressions or wetlands, bordered by wetland grasses and other wetland plants are filled with life. Some wetlands contain permanent water bodies and others are more seasonal. Both of these types of wetlands are important for wildlife. 

      WPAs are vital waterfowl breeding habitats that were created by an amendment to the Federal Duck Stamp Act in 1958 and are an important tool for wetland conservation. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to the purchase or lease of wetland habitat for protection within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Federal Duck Stamp Program has been called one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated and is a highly effective way to conserve America’s natural resources.  

      Northwest Montana Wetland Management District Flathead County provides wetland areas needed by waterfowl in the spring and summer for nesting and feeding. Thousands of waterfowl also use these wetlands in the spring and fall for feeding and resting during their long migratory flights. Primary objectives of the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District Flathead County are wetland habitat preservation and improvement, waterfowl and wildlife production, maintenance of migration habitat, and provision of winter cover for resident wildlife.

      Our Species

      Our Library

      Documents relevant to planning and programs at the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District can be found within this library.