Importance of Wetlands

Wetlands and Riparian Areas
make up less than 3.3% of the total area in the state of Montana, yet they are the most critical habitat to the majority of Montana’s wildlife.

Wetlands and riparian areas are important for:

  • Over 56 species of mammals, including small rodents and rabbits, bats, carnivores (beaver, weasel, raccoon, skunk), deer, elk, moose and pronghorn antelope.
  • At least 102 of Montana’s breeding birds, 51 species of migrating bird species, and 30 bird species of concern in Montana.
  • Essential breeding, foraging and over-wintering habitat for 16 native amphibians of Montana.
  • 100% of Montana’s native fish populations depend on healthy stream and riparian corridors and waters.


  • Flood control and Purification
    Wetlands are not only critical to Montana’s wildlife populations, they also capture, store, and naturally purify waters. The diversity of water-loving plants within a wetland help take up excess nutrients and many can take up heavy metals such as zinc, lead and copper that can be detrimental to both humans and aquatic life.

    Wetlands also trap a great amount of sediment, reducing the amount of sedimentation in creeks, streams and rivers.

    A wetland also has the capacity to capture, hold and store excess runoff from a flood event, decreasing a floods impact and potential damage on its surrounding communities.

    Online sources for more information:

    Montana Audubon

    Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality

    Montana Natural Heritage Program Wetland Mapping

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