Wetlands of Montana - Gallatin County
Wetlands are important to the values of our natural resources. But how do you know when you are in a wetland?
- Common features of all wetlands:
- Water present - above or below the surface for a portion of the year
- Water soils - soils saturated in water most of the time
- Water plants - plants adapted to wet conditions
- What are wetlands? - Courtesy of Flathead Lakers
- Wetlands are areas inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater for most or part
of the year. Wetlands include marshes, wet meadows, prairie potholes, ponds, high
mountain lakes, spring seeps and fens. They are often found between dry land and water
along the edges of streams, rivers, and lakes.
- Wetlands are a vital link between our land and water resources.
- Why are wetlands important?- Courtesy of Flathead Laker
- Wetlands maintain and improve water quality, including groundwater quality.
- Wetland plants filter nutrients, and other pollutants from runoff, preventing nutrients
and pollutants from entering nearby lakes and streams.
- Wetlands provide storage area for flood waters, helping to reduce flooding. Wetlands
also help recharge wells and aquifers. Protection of wetlands is particularly important
in areas where people depend on wells and springs for drinking water.
- Wetlands along the banks of streams and rivers can slow water movement and help prevent
bank erosion. Wetlands provide recreation for bird watchers and hunters, and provide
open space and scenic landscapes.
- Private property values can benefit from protection of wetlands, ponds and streams,
since these areas can increase the value and marketability of adjacent lands.
- Wetlands provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including bald eagles, bull trout,
muskrat, beaver, and mink. Many fish spawn in wetlands connected to streams and rivers,
where they find food and cover.
- Wetlands provide food, water, and shelter for birds, especially during migration and
breeding. Migratory and neo-tropical birds that rely on wetlands include geese, herons,
egrets, ducks, cranes, yellow-headed blackbirds, and marsh hawks.
- Wetlands produce great amounts of food for many animal species. Their shallow water
and nutrients are ideal for the growth of organisms which form the base of the food
web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish, and insects.
- Reptiles and amphibians, including western and pacific chorus frogs, northern leopard
frogs, spotted frogs, long-toed salamanders and northern alligator lizards, need wetlands
- Watch videos to learn about the services and benefits provided by wetlands
We are monitoring wetlands across the ecologically significant watersheds in Gallatin County, Montana in order to answer the following questions:
- What are the land uses surrounding our wetlands?
- How are changes in land use affecting our wetlands?
- Where are the high-quality, minimally-disturbed wetlands in Gallatin County?
- What are the threats to these high-quality wetlands?
- What are our tools for maintaining these high quality wetlands?
Our monitoring relies on volunteers. Interested in Volunteering?
For More Information Contact: