The Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge is located in the west-central portion of Flathead County, Montana, approximately 25 air miles west of Kalispell and 20 miles northwest of the town of Marion. Encompassing 9,225 acres, the refuge was established as the 519th refuge in the national wildlife refuge system managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The historical land use practices significantly altered wetland and aquatic resources within the refuge. Wetlands within the refuge have been impacted by water impoundments, irrigation diversions, wetland drains, and infrastructure including the great northern railroad and pleasant valley road. Pleasant valley creek was straightened and channelized, lowering the groundwater table and resulting in loss of wetland hydrology.

Restoration work includes removing on-stream fish barriers, reconstructing stream channels, improving fish passage conditions at roadway crossings, and restoring and enhancing riparian and floodplain functions associated with pleasant valley creek. To facilitate restoration actions, a portion of pleasant valley road will be relocated out of sensitive wetland and riparian areas.  Approximately 5.7 miles of pleasant valley creek will be restored and historical floodplain surfaces reconnected. Approximately 47,000 lineal feet of ditch, which includes wetland drainage ditches, irrigation canals, roadside ditches, and the ditched pleasant valley creek, will be filled. These actions will result in a net increase of 222 acres of wetland habitat on the refuge, mostly consisting of emergent and scrub-shrub wetland types. To facilitate restoration, approximately 3.03 miles of existing road will be relocated from wetlands and floodplains to upland areas.

The project is currently being implemented.

John Muhlfeld

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Flathead County, Montana

Remote Sensing
Channel Reconstruction
Wetland Restoration
Fish Passage