Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
This article is about the location. For the film, see The Missouri Breaks
The Missouri Breaks
The Missouri Breaks is a 1976 American western film starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. The film was directed by Arthur Penn, with supporting performances by Randy Quaid, Harry Dean Stanton, Frederic Forrest, John McLiam and Kathleen Lloyd...


The Missouri Breaks is located in central 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,...

, U.S. and is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America's public lands, totaling approximately , or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state and private...

 (BLM) under the full title of Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Called "The Breaks" by locals, it is a series of badland areas characterized by rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and grassy plains. Created on January 17, 2001, it encompasses 377,000 acres (1,530 km2), most of which were already managed by the U.S. Government. The adjacent 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...

 was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1976 and forms a western boundary while the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge surrounds Fort Peck Reservoir and at 1,100,000 acres is the largest refuge in Montana, United States. Created in 1936, the refuge was named after famed painter of the American West, Charles M. Russell...

 is to the east. The Breaks country was a model for many of the paintings done by painter Charles M. Russell.


French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 trappers found the area in the late 18th century peopled by Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes such as the Blackfoot
The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana....

, Northern Cheyenne, Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre (Atsina), Crow tribe, Plains Cree and Plains Ojibwa
The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

. The Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition" was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William...

 passed through the breaks in 1805 and were the first to document the region through notes and drawings, and their sighting and documentation 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...

 in the breaks region was the first time this species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 was recorded in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 by white explorers. Much of the Breaks region has remained as it was when Lewis and Clark's party first saw it. "The confluence of the Judith
Judith River
The Judith River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 124 mi long, running through central Montana and the United States. It rises in the Little Belt Mountains and flows northeast past Utica and Hobson...

 and Missouri Rivers was the setting for important peace councils in 1846 and 1855. In 1877, the Nez Perce crossed the Missouri and entered the Breaks country in their attempt to escape to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. The Cow Island Skirmish occurred in the Breaks and was the last encounter prior to the Nez Perce's surrender to the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 at the Battle of Bear Paw
Battle of Bear Paw
The Battle of Bear Paw was the final engagement of the Nez Perce War. Some of the Nez Perce were able to escape to Canada, but Chief Joseph was forced to surrender the majority of his tribe to Oliver O. Howard...

 just north of the monument." http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:71712273&ctrlInfo=Round13%3AMode13c%3ADocG%3AResult&ao=

Management and conservation

A full management plan is still under development due to various private inholding
An inholding is privately owned land inside the boundary of a national park, national forest, state park, or similar publicly owned, protected area...

s and lease agreements between private citizens and the federal government. While conservationists would like to see some of the Breaks monument lands become designated as Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

, local ranchers and farmers, under long standing lease agreements with the federal government who graze upwards of 10,000 head of cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 annually within the new monument, are concerned that the monument status may adversely affect their livelihood and the economies of local towns. Under the proposed management plan from the Department of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior
The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...

, although the resources of the monument will be given better protection, "currently permitted livestock grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

, hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, and similar activities will generally not be affected, nor will private property (approximately 81,911 acres [331 km2]) and state land (approximately 38,722 acres [157 km2]) within the boundary of the proposed monument, as well as other valid existing rights." http://www.doi.gov/news/archives/Missour.html

The Breaks is home to at least 60 mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 species and hundreds 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...

 species. Willow
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

s and shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s are found along the Missouri River banks while sagebrush
Sagebrush is a common name of a number of shrubby plant species in the genus Artemisia native to western North America;Or, the sagebrush steppe ecoregion, having one or more kinds of sagebrush, bunchgrasses and others;...

 and short grass prairie
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

are dominant elsewhere.

External links

  • Map Bureau of Land Management
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