Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge surrounds Fort Peck Reservoir and at 1,100,000 acres (4,450 km²) is the largest refuge in Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Created in 1936, the refuge was named after famed painter of the American West, Charles M. Russell. Extending for a distance of 125 miles (200 km) along the shores of Fort Peck Reservoir and the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

, the refuge is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The refuge is administered from offices in Lewistown, Montana
Lewistown, Montana
Lewistown is a city in and the county seat of Fergus County, Montana, United States. The population was 5,813 at the 2000 census. Lewistown is located in central Montana, the geographic center of the state, southeast of Great Falls...


245,000 acres (991 km²) of the refuge are part of the reservoir formed by the Missouri River impounded behind Fort Peck Dam
Fort Peck Dam
The Fort Peck Dam is the highest of six major dams along the Missouri River, located in northeast Montana in the United States, near Glasgow, and adjacent to the community of Fort Peck...

 which was built to provide irrigation, flood control and improve plant and animal species protection. The shores of the reservoir are host to grassy prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

s, badlands
A badlands is a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. It can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos and other such geological forms are common in badlands. They are often...

 and forest zones which provide an excellent blend for biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

. Consequently, the largest population of bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep
The bighorn sheep is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to , while the sheep themselves weigh up to . Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae...

 outside the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

 exist in the refuge. Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, pronghorn
The pronghorn is a species of artiodactyl mammal endemic to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, or simply antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and...

, prairie dog
Prairie dog
Prairie dogs are burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five different species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico...

, mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

, porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

 and approximately 235 species of bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s are also found here.

The UL Bend Wilderness
UL Bend Wilderness
The UL Bend Wilderness comprises 20,819 acres and is located in the U.S. state of Montana within the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge, which in turn is also completely surrounded by the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Bordering on the Fort Peck Reservoir, a portion of the Missouri...

 is located in the western sections within the refuge while the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
This article is about the location. For the film, see The Missouri Breaks.The Missouri Breaks is located in central Montana, U.S. and is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management under the full title of Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument...

 is located along the western boundary of the refuge. The refuge land is spread into portions of six counties along the river; from west to east they are Fergus
Fergus County, Montana
-National protected areas:* Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge * Lewis and Clark National Forest * Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument -Demographics:...

, Phillips
Phillips County, Montana
-National protected areas:* Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge* Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge * Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge* UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge* Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument -Demographics:...

, Petroleum
Petroleum County, Montana
-National protected areas:*Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge *War Horse National Wildlife Refuge-Demographics:At the 2000 census, there were 493 people, 211 households and 136 families residing in the county. The population density was 0.29 per square mile . There were 292 housing units...

, Garfield
Garfield County, Montana
-Politics:Garfield County is a solidly Republican county. It might be the most Republican county in Montana and one of the most Republican in the nation....

, Valley
Valley County, Montana
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 7,675 people, 3,150 households, and 2,129 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile . There were 4,847 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile...

, and McCone
McCone County, Montana
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 1,977 people, 810 households, and 596 families residing in the county. The population density was 1 people per square mile . There were 1,087 housing units at an average density of 0 per square mile...


U.S. Highway 191 provides access to the western sections of the refuge, but Montana Highway 24 passes along the eastern boundary, allowing better access to wildlife stations.

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