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Focus Areas

Shurb Grassland

Focus Areas

Focus areas are places in the shrub grassland ecosystem that have been identified by scientists as specific areas that are in the greatest need of conservation. The following information describes each area, the fish and wildlife species associated with it, the concerns these areas face and things that can be done to help- "strategies."

Bighorn Intermontane Basin

Bighorn Intermontane Basin.

The Bighorn Basin is home to a very diverse wildlife community and represents a limited geographic area at the end of its range that resembles communities more typical of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau than Montana.

Middle Missouri River & Tributaries

Middle Missouri River & Tributaries.

Once the Missouri River reaches the confluence with Hardy Creek, it becomes wide and slow but turns into whitewater as it flows over the remaining falls at Great Falls. At Great Falls, the middle Missouri River picks up increased volume from its confluence with the Sun River.

Montana Glaciated Plains

Montana Glaciated Plains.

This area is dominated by level- to rolling- till plains covered by sagebrush grasslands and mixed short-grass prairie. It encompasses several island mountain ranges. In the east, this focus area is characterized by prairie dissected by the major tributaries to the Milk, Missouri, Marias, and Musselshell River drainages.

Montana Shale Plains

Montana Shale Plains.

This area is mostly privately owned. It can be considered mountain foothill terrain that contains many woody draws with ponderosa pine and hardwood stands throughout. It is very dry with annual precipitation not exceeding 12 inches, on average.

Powder River Basin/Breaks/Scoria Hills

Powder River Basin/Breaks/Scoria Hills.

Much of this unglaciated area extends across Montana’s border into Wyoming. The flat to rolling, mixed-grass prairie contains considerable areas of sagebrush grassland as well as ponderosa pine and juniper woodlands broken by occasional rugged breaks.

Shale Scablands

Shale Scablands.

This very dry area is covered mostly by sagebrush grassland, intersected by woody draws. The plant species that make up the woody draws are mostly green ash, buffaloberry, chokecherry and some juniper. This drought-impacted area has been called the "big empty" but in recent years has garnered much interest due to the discovery of coal bed natural gas.

Wildlife Species in the Greatest Need of Conservation

In each ecosystem, scientists have identified geographical areas, called "focus areas." These areas provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife species that have been identified as in greatest need of conservation. The table below identifies fish and wildlife species in greatest need of conservation in these focus areas.

To learn more about each focus area click on the maps above; to learn more about each species in greatest need of conservation click on the title of each animal below.

 
   

Amphibians

Northern Leopard Frog

X   X X X X

Birds

Common Loon

    X X X X

Trumpeter Swan

        X  

Bald Eagle

X   X X X X

Greater Sage-Grouse

X   X X X X

Image Not Available

Yellow Rail

    X      

Whooping Crane

    X X X X

Piping Plover

    X      

Mountain Plover

X   X X   X

Long-billed Curlew

X   X X X X

Least Tern

    X      

Black Tern

    X X X X

Burrowing Owl

X   X X X X

Fish

Pallid Sturgeon

  X        

Paddlefish

  X        

Shortnose Gar

  X        

Sturgeon Chub

  X        

Sicklefin Chub

  X        

Blue Sucker

  X        

Burbot

  X        

Sauger

  X        

Mammals

Image Not Available

Spotted Bat

X   X   X  

Townsend's Big-eared Bat

    X X X X

Pallid Bat

X          

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

X   X X X X

White-tailed Prairie Dog

X          

Meadow Jumping Mouse

      X X X

Gray Wolf

X          

Black-footed Ferret

X   X X X X

Canadian Lynx

    X X    

American Bison

    X   X  

Reptiles

Snapping Turtle

    X   X X

Spiny Softshell

    X X X X

Western Hog-nosed Snake

X   X X X X

Milksnake

X   X X X X
 
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