Notice of Intent for Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has published a Notice of Intent to gather information for the process of developing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the wetland management district wetland management district
A wetland management district is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office that manages waterfowl production areas in one or more counties. Waterfowl production areas are small natural wetlands and grasslands that provide breeding, resting and nesting habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland…

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, satellite refuges, and waterfowl production area waterfowl production area
Waterfowl production areas are small natural wetlands and grasslands within the National Wildlife Refuge System that provide breeding, resting and nesting habitat for millions of waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland birds and other wildlife. Virtually all waterfowl production areas are in the Prairie…

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units of the Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District in south-central Montana. 

This action is not related to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge nor its Comprehensive Conservation Plan. 

The Service has published this notice in compliance with Refuge Planning policy to advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be considered in the planning process. Link to Federal Register Notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2022-13848/comprehensive-conservation-plan-units-of-charles-m-russell-complex-montana

To ensure consideration of any public comments at the earliest stages of this process, we must receive written comments by July 29, 2022.  Comments and questions can please be submitted by one of the following methods:  

  • Email: Alice Lee, via email at alice_lee@fws.gov  

  • U.S. mail: Alice Lee, Conservation Planner, via mail at Branch of Refuge Planning, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225. 

Visit Us

War Horse National Wildlife Refuge is an unstaffed satellite refuge and is part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. The Refuge consists of three separate land units: Wild Horse, War Horse and Yellow Water. The refuge is open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation. A boat launching site for small craft is available on the Yellow Water Unit but no other recreation facilities are available. In addition to compliance with all applicable state hunting regulations, non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds.

The Wild Horse Unit, located approximately 11 miles northeast of Teigen, Montana, consists of two small and separate land parcels adjacent to the southern shoreline of Wild Horse Lake. The west parcel is 120 acres and the east parcel, located a half mile to the east, is 320 acres. The parcels are separated by private land. A county maintained road crosses both parcels and provides public access. Neither parcel is boundary fenced.

Wild Horse Lake is a natural depression that infrequently contains water, but is very valuable for waterfowl and shorebirds when it does. It is used mainly for migration purposes. Additionally, the sagebrush sagebrush
The western United States’ sagebrush country encompasses over 175 million acres of public and private lands. The sagebrush landscape provides many benefits to our rural economies and communities, and it serves as crucial habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including the iconic greater sage-grouse…

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uplands surrounding the lake are critical for wintering sage grouse and pronghorn antelope which can be found in the area throughout the year. Visitors will also encounter prairie dogs, mule deer, and rattlesnakes.

The War Horse Unit, located approximately 7 miles northeast of Teigen, Montana, consists of three separate land parcels adjacent to War Horse Reservoir. One 160-acre parcel is along the north shoreline; the other two parcels (520 and 632 acres) are on the south shoreline. There is also a 40-acre Waterfowl Production Area that connects the two parcels on the south shoreline. None of the parcels are boundary fenced.

War Horse Reservoir is a natural depression that contains water only infrequently, but is very productive for waterfowl and shorebirds when it does. The uplands surrounding the reservoir consist of sage brush/grasslands, with an association of ponderosa pines to the south. These pines are part of the acid-shale pine forest unique to central Montana.

The Yellow Water Unit is located approximately 8 miles southwest of Winnett, Montana. It lies along the west and southwest shores of the Yellow Water Reservoir which is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for irrigation supply to neighboring ranches. As such, water levels fluctuate radically and prevent establishment of emergent vegetation along the shoreline. The shallow flats on the west end of the lake are quite productive with submergent vegetation and are attractive to waterfowl and shorebirds. The combination of mud flats, shallow water areas, and deep water areas provides habitat for a diversity of water dependent species.

Surrounding uplands provide critical nesting and wintering habitats for sage grouse. Pronghorn antelope, mule deer and rattlesnakes are also commonly observed, and there is a large black-tailed prairie dog town located southwest of the reservoir. The reservoir contains rainbow trout which are stocked occasionally by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. This unit has a boundary fence and a boat launching site for small craft is available.

Activities

War Horse National Wildlife Refuge is an unstaffed satellite refuge and is part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. The refuge consists of three separate land units: Wild Horse, War Horse and Yellow Water and is open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation. A boat launching site for small craft is available on the Yellow Water Unit but no other recreation facilities are available. In addition to compliance with all applicable state hunting regulations, non-toxic shot must be used to harvest waterfowl and upland game birds.

Related Documents

A map showing the Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District, Waterfowl Production Areas and satellite refuges is available below.

Wetland Management District map

Shows Charles M. Russell Wetland Management District inluding locations of satellite refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).

Other Facilities in the Complex

This refuge is managed as part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location.  Refuges are grouped into a complex because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is the only staffed refuge in the Complex. Other refuges in the Charles M. Russell Complex include: 

Rules and Policies

The regulations below apply to War Horse NWR, Hailstone NWR and Lake Mason NWR. Grass Lake NWR and the north half of the Lake Mason Unit of Lake Mason NWR are closed to any public uses.

Locations

War Horse National Wildlife Refuge
C/O Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge 333 Airport Road Lewistown, MT 59457
Driving Directions

War Horse National Wildlife Refuge consists of three separate land units: Wild Horse, War Horse and Yellow Water.

To access the Wild Horse Unit, head east from Grass Range on Highway 200 for 11 miles to the old town of Teigen. Turn north on the Blakeslee Road. Go 10 miles north until you come to a four way intersection. Turn east and drive 1.5 miles to the lake.

To access the War Horse Unit head east from Grass Range on Highway 200 for 11 miles to the old town of Teigen. Turn north on the Blakeslee Road. Go 6.5 miles north until you see the lake, passing the National Wildlife Refuge sign (at 5.5 miles). At the cement bridge, turn east on the dirt trail to the lake.

To access the Yellow Water Unit, take Highway 200 to the town of Winnett, then drive south on Highway 244 for 7.4 miles to the Yellow Water Road. Turn west on the gravel road and continue 5.5 miles taking a left at the ‘Y’ to the reservoir.