EcoFlight flew with The Wilderness Society over the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most pristine prairie landscapes in North America. The refuge contains the last remaining free flowing portion of the Missouri River, functioning as it did before the construction of numerous dams.
The refuge, the largest in Montana, is home to elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyote, porcupine and the largest population of bighorn sheep outside the Rocky mountains. Approximately 235 species of birds are also found here.
Though the UL Bend Wilderness is the only designated wilderness within the boundaries of the refuge, permanent protection is being sought for 15 proposed wilderness areas, totalling over 155,000 acres, which are managed much as designated wilderness in order to maintain their wildland qualities.
The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is embarking on an important multi-year process to develop a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for the refuge to provide long-range guidance and management direction for the refuge’s programs.