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Montane Forest areas of Montana

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Montane Forest Statistics

Montane Forest: 26% of the state
Precipitation: Averages 37 inches, mostly deposited in the winter
Soils: Typically acidic
Topography: - Mostly steep slopes, some more than 45°
- Elevation ranges from 1800' (lowest point in the state) to 12,800' (highest point in the state)
For more details see the CFWCS


The montane forest ecosystem represents the mountains of Montana that have been formed by tectonic uplift and glacial erosion. These high elevation areas occur along the western third of the state and encompass mountains from their base to their summit with elevations increasing from the north where the Kootenai River flows into Idaho (1,800') southward to the snow capped peaks in the Beartooth Range (12,800') adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. Vast coniferous forest complexes of larch, fir, hemlock, pine, and spruce trees characterize these areas that protect the headwater mountain streams of Montana’s rivers. Much of this ecosystem is in public ownership through the United States Forest Service (USFS). 

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Fish & Wildlife

The montane forest is home to a variety of wildlife species. Some of these animals are year round residents like the snowshoe hare, while others are seasonal visitors such as the Lewis' woodpecker that migrates south for the winter. Wildlife species listed on this page were selected because of their adaptations that help them survive in a forested mountain environment.


This ecosystem is dominated by closed canopy conifer forests. This type of vegetation generally does not grow unless there is at least 20" of moisture.