Montana has lost approximately one-third of its naturally occurring wetlands since settlement. Wetlands are valuable for providing flood and erosion control, enhancing water quality, and providing wildlife and fish habitat. The Federal Clean Water Act requires mitigation for some wetland filling projects; however, wetlands continue to be impacted and lost as roads are expanded, land is developed, and due to cumulative impacts from numerous activities such as draining, changes in land management, and landowner preference for open water ponds.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Water Protection Bureau is responsible for coordinating and providing leadership to wetland conservation activities statewide. The 2011-2018 Montana DEQ Wetland Program Plan guides activities.
One activity is to staff and provide leadership to the Montana Wetland Council. The Council acts as a forum for all stakeholders to participate in wetland issues. With DEQ leadership and extensive public involvement, the Council developed Priceless Resources: Strategic Framework for Wetland and Riparian Area Conservation and Restoration in Montana 2013-2017, which guides the Council and all involved in wetland issues and in pursuing wetland conservation activities. The Strategic Framework was approved by the Governor and Directors of DEQ, the Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, and the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks as the state plan for wetlands and riparian areas. Several working groups are being formed to help implement the Strategic Framework.
Contact Stephen Carpenedo (email@example.com or (406) 444-3527) to get involved. Wetland conservation priorities are funded by an Environmental Protection Agency grant program administered by the DEQ Wetland Coordinator. Currently, there are 20 active grant projects involving state and local governments.
These projects range from an Evaluation of Wetland Impacts in the State of Montana, to Developing Education and Information about Montana Wetlands, to a Local Partnership composed of local government, wetland ecologist, and community volunteers to inventory wetlands for restoration and management needs. Wetland grant projects are solicited each fall and for approved projects that further the goals of the Strategic Framework. Funding is available the following spring.