National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic Views at Red Rock Lakes NWR Scenic Views at Red Rock Lakes NWR Scenic Views at Red Rock Lakes NWR Scenic Views at Red Rock Lakes NWR

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge


About Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge


Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), shown in green in the map to the right, is located in a remote section of Beaverhead county southwestern Montana. The 32,520 acre area is comprised of a high elevation mountain wetland-riparian area, the refuge lies in the eastern end of the Centennial Valley, near the head waters of the Missouri River. The refuge’s lakes, marshes, and creeks combined with the high elevation of the area provide a unique habit for migratory birds.

Species that use the refuge include the Barrow’s golden eye, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, great blue herons, willets, avocets, bald eagle, and long-billed curlews. Along with the various migratory birds there is a diverse group of animals that live within the area like the black bear, badger, elk, white-tailed deer, moose, bobcat, cougar, beaver, and others. Threatened and Endangered species in the area include the Arctic grayling fish, whooping crane, grizzly bear and the Greater sage grouse.


Refuge Area and Class I Designation

  • In 1976, Congress designated 32,350 acres of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and “unimpaired” for future generations.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Red Rock Lake Wilderness Area by designating it as a Class I air quality area. As a wilderness area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager of the Red Rock Lakes NWR, the responsibility to protect the air quality and natural resources of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affects Red Rock Lakes NWR including power plants in both the U.S. and Canada, gas processing plants, oil and gas wells and motor vehicle emissions.
  • The FWS is working cooperatively with industry and the State of Montana to reduce air pollution emissions and protect the air quality and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) of Red Rock Lakes NWR.
  • If the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness Area is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values will be threatened or even lost. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect these special wilderness areas for future generations.  


Learn more about air quality at Red Rock Lakes NWR


Three programs monitor visibility, atmospheric deposition, and mercury conditions. FWS measures fine airborne particles responsible for visibility impairment in partnership with the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program. Atmospheric pollutants in rain are analyzed by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program and mercury in rain is measured by the Mercury Deposition Network (MDN). Within this site are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Red Rock Lakes NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area.

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Addition Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Red Rock Lakes NWR Website
Red Rock Lakes NWR 300km Radius Map (PDF 388KB)

Last updated: November 13, 2012