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Monday, December 7, 20152015 Annual MTNHP Partners Meeting Summary

Annual Partners Meeting and MTNHP 30th Anniversary

The 2015 Montana Natural Heritage Program partners meeting and 30th Anniversary celebration was held at Montana Wild in Helena on December 7th.  Minutes from that meeting are below, the MTNHP's Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 can be accessed at and you can access the Botany, Ecology, Zoology, Information Systems & Services, and Budget & Strategic Plan presentations from the meeting on the internet at the following links.


MTNHP Partners Meeting Minutes - 12/7/2015

Meeting summary/highlights

  • See Botany, Ecology, Zoology, and Information Systems and Services presentations for updates and future directions.
  • There was widespread support from partners on:
    1. Continued development Custom Field Guide spatial filters to allow creation of PDF field guides for species within the boundaries of a variety of management areas (e.g., BLM Field Office, U.S. Forest Districts, FWP Regions, Major Land Resource areas, tribal reservations, Important Bird Areas, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Wildlife Management Areas, Fishing Access Sites, Conservation Districts, and watersheds (4th, 5th, 6th code HUCs)
    2. Development of a new Environmental Review Information summary tool that would allow users to submit a shapefile or digitize project boundaries of interest for a report containing a list of documented species, a list of potential species, a summary of acreages of land cover types, a summary of acreages of wetland/riparian types, a summary of land management, a summary of biological reports in the area that are on file at MTNHP, and custom field guides of potential/documented species.
    3. Development of Montana Field Guide species accounts and other compilation of information for species recently petitioned for ESA listing, nonvascular plants with no current representation in Heritage databases, and pollinators (bees and butterflies to start with, but wasps, moths, and ants that are pollinators as well).
    4. An increase in trainings on Heritage data resources to agencies, organizations, and private consultants that work with agencies on environmental reviews.  Contact Bryce Maxell at or 406-444-3989 if you or your organization could benefit from training on MTNHP information resources
    5. Completion of recent statewide wetland and riparian mapping for management and prioritization of a variety of conservation funding opportunities.  Of the 2,952 USGS Quadrangles that cover Montana, 2,406 (82%) have either been mapped or there is funding in place to get them mapped.  There are still 546 quadrangles (18%) that need funding for mapping.  These quadrangles are primarily composed of private, tribal, USFS, State, and National Park Service lands.
    6. Updating the Land Cover layer to assist with implementation of the Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Program…both for the habitat disturbance and habitat quality tools.
    7. MTNHP's continued assistance to agencies with monitoring of species and habitats of concern through partner funded projects.
  • Partners that have contributed supplemental core funding in the past universally expressed that they have been satisfied with what they have received for their supplemental funding contributions and that they plan to continue those contributions in the future.
  • At least some partners noted that they were disappointed that:
    1. MTNHP was not able to continue to maintain an Aquatic Ecologist position, and more broadly that the lack of legislative funding to the Montana State Library continues to hinder MTNHP's ability to retain staff expertise, and develop and maintain core information and services at the level that seems to be intended by statutes that guide the program.
    2. MTNHP is at risk of losing staff capacity to map wetland and riparian areas as wetland/riparian funding has tapered off.
    3. MTNHP lost all Montana Land Information Act funding for updating and maintaining the Montana Land Cover layer in FY16.

Additional Groups that Partners Recommended Inviting to Future Meetings

  • Legislative Services for Environmental Quality Council
  • More tribal representation
  • More representation from DEQ and DNRC
  • Montana Association of Conservation Districts
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council
  • Montana Association of Planners
  • Governor's Natural Resource Policy Advisor

Montana State Digital Library Update

The Montana State Digital Library will rehire the state GIS coordinator position with recruitment to begin early in 2016.  The Montana State Digital Library has been reorganized into User Services, Information Management, and Information Products groups.  The reorganization was undertaken to:

  • Reduce request response times (based on request type);
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary forwarded/redirected requests;
  • Improve the quality of responses to requests;
  • More efficient use of staff and technical resources;
  • Customers are better able to help themselves to content without direct assistance;
  • Focus on metrics, leading to improved agency records management, reporting and retention (accountability);
  • Increased diversity in staff workloads (some will see this as a benefit);
  • Reduce a backlog of requests and keep it from re-occurring.
  • Better crosswalk Heritage Program data and digital library data (e.g., wetland and riparian mapping cross walked with digital hydrography)

Partner Updates and Feedback

FWP – Ken McDonald

  1. Funded nongame biologist positions in all 7 FWP regions from a cobbling together of a variety of funds.
  2. Trying to integrate game and nongame surveys and staff as much as possible.
  3. Bat and cave work in conjunction with MTNHP
  4. Long-billed Curlew initiative
  5. Golden Eagle monitoring, especially with wind turbine development
  6. High elevation bird species (e.g. Black and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch)
  7. Harlequin Duck monitoring…worked with MTNHP on this
  8. Integrated Monitoring by Bird Conservation Region (IMBCR) monitoring
  9. 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan is official and has been released.  The SWAP incorporates the SOC list and SGIN list as its method of evaluation of conservation and status survey updates.
  10. Want to put dollars where they get their biggest bang for the buck through focus on Inventory of Species of Greatest Inventory Need
  11. FWP wants the following from MTNHP: data to make management decisions, assistance with information on petitioned and listed species such as Northern Bog Lemming and Northern Myotis, prioritizing SOC, and distribution data to work with developers on mitigation.  MTNHP is very useful for hiring seasonals through UM since FWP doesn't always have FTE hiring authority, but has funds.  Wants to have automated request filler along the lines of the Environmental Review Tool presented.  Trainings to regional staff have been very valuable.  Species expertise is very helpful to FWP.  USFWS is looking for status information on invertebrates…especially pollinators.  Online references are valuable…push for best available science.  Maxent modeling for addressing listing decisions and conservation initiatives (Long-billed Curlew initiative).  Need a more detailed sagebrush map.  Field Guide custom report has been very valuable.  They miss Dave Stagliano's work on nongame fishes and macroinvertebrates because they don't have that expertise.  Need to update MOU on data exchange.  Have reached a verbal understanding of how to exchange data on Greater Sage-Grouse moving forward.  State is following Wyoming's Density Disturbance Calculation Tool approach for implementation in Montana…DNRC is implementing this starting in January…project cannot disturb more than 5% of available Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in the area.  Habitat exchanges will be possible under Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plan.  FWP will monitor Greater Sage-Grouse.  Executive order has oversight committee at Director level.

USGS – Claudia Regan

  1. Have 16 PIs and a larger staff of post docs…mostly in Bozeman, but also in Missoula
  2. Wetland research
  3. Aquatic invasives and amphibian research
  4. Alpine and montane ecosystems (Pika) research into climate change
  5. Native trout and climate change
  6. Conservation genetics work going on both in aquatic and terrestrial realms
  7. Kathy Irvine and acoustic monitoring under NaBat is an obvious crosswalk with MTNHP.  Claudia would like more interactions with us because they would like to build a business model to monitor bats nationwide under NaBat
  8. Looks forward to future collaboration with MTNHP

USFWS – Jodi Bush

  1. Need to see where Heritage can crosswalk with various arms of USFWS.  Jodi will help us crosswalk with National Wildlife Refuges and USFWS research staff.
  2. Insect and aquatic invertebrates are coming up for listing decisions.  Northern Bog Lemming, Royal Fritillary, Western Bumblebee are all up for listing decisions.
  3. Review of Canada Lynx status is upcoming…review to see if they are going to engage in recovery planning.
  4. Greater Sage-Grouse was not warranted for listing.  Looking at implementation of conservation efforts.  Another status review is likely in 3-5 years in order to track success of conservation efforts.
  5. Natural resource damage assessment on Yellowstone River oil spills may be an avenue of crosswalk with MTNHP.  Need a cavity nester assessment in riparian areas and assessment of oil spill impacts along those lines.
  6. Worked with MTNHP to create polygons that will be used in the USFWS Information for Planning and Conservation (IPAC) website which will guide users on where they need to undertake consultation with USFWS.
  7. Working with TNC on statewide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Greater Sage-Grouse.

BLM – Jake Chaffin and Wendy Velman

  1. BLM has 8.3 million surface acres and 47 million subsurface acres within Montana/Dakotas Office
  2. BLM is a multiple use agency
  3. The return on investment of Heritage data is huge for BLM since it would require huge amounts of funding to create these information resources if they had to do it on their own.  BLM intends to continue to provide supplemental core funding at levels similar to their contributions in recent years.
  4. Trainings and web trainings are something they are very interested in because of retirements and new employees.
  5. Environmental review tool is definitely something they are very interested in.  Would like to be able to submit a shapefile and then buffer it by various distances.
  6. BLM has put about $1,000,000 into Wetland and Riparian mapping in Montana over the last few years
  7. Greater Sage-Grouse is a game changer for BLM.  BLM will be using disturbance tool in conjunction with FWP and DNRC.  Focused on conservation actions that maintain and conserve sagebrush.
  8. Had 4 recent RMPs and 2 amendments to RMPs that utilized MTNHP data.
  9. Will have some directed funding toward burning or mechanical removal of trees that are encroaching on sagebrush habitats.  Heritage can help figure out what potential impacts might be on a wide variety of species in those sagebrush/savanna ecotones.
  10. Have a couple of new fish bios.  Have increased need for understanding prairie streams.  Also miss the expertise of Dave Stagliano to address prairie fish data gaps.  Want to stop expansion of Northern Pike in prairie streams.
  11. Have been involved with bat and cave surveillance efforts so far and plan to be involved with habitat-based acoustic sampling effort.  Will continue to be a need to assess Northern Myotis distribution in SE Montana and South Dakota.
  12. BLM generates a Special Status list every 5 years.  In 2014, BLM took a look at what Species of Concern actually overlap with BLM lands so that BLM could actually have an impact on management outcomes.  Will need Heritage assistance with future revisions of BLM Special Status list.
  13. Wendy is only Botanist in BLM for MT, SD, and ND.
  14. May need to train Greater Sage-Grouse seasonals to identify and document forbs as part of their field work.
  15. Identify BLM plants of highest inventory need and then work with Heritage to conduct inventories.
  16. Wendy would like to work with Heritage on pollinator information compilation initiative.  BLM has national guidance to consider pollinators when conducting revegetation efforts.

USFS - Steve Shelly and Tammy Fletcher

  1. Cara Staab, Region 1 Wildlife Ecologist, was unable to attend this meeting, but will coordinate USFS's annual funding contribution to Heritage.
  2. USFS supplemental funding contribution to MTNHP looks very stable moving forward.
  3. Historical perspective from the days when Steve Shelly was a Botanist with MTNHP shows how far we have come…very impressive.
  4. Forest Plan Revision efforts are ongoing – 3 going on in Montana right now.  These include the Flathead National Forest, Helena-Lewis and Clark, and Custer-Gallatin.  Ecosystem sustainability is a key focus of all forest plan revisions.  Species of Conservation Concern are the focus.
  5. Rely heavily on Heritage information resources, conservation status ranks, and species occurrences and observations.
  6. Monitoring efforts must continue in order to assess ongoing status of Species of Conservation Concern.
  7. Will support funding of the Integrated Monitoring by Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) again this year.
  8. Have 5 million acres of White-bark Pine on USFS lands in Region 1 so Whitebark Pine information/mapping is critical.  Need to know where to focus restoration efforts.
  9. Really value Heritage assistance with acoustic monitoring of bats and surveillance of caves.
  10. Would definitely like to crosswalk on training needs.

NRCS – Kale Gullet & Cathy Maynard

  1. Really appreciates overview of Heritage data resources.
  2. Has supported MTNHP with supplemental core funding since 2006 (except for 2014) and will try to continue that support.  The State Conservationist, Lisa Coverdale, was pleased by the availability of information resources when she met with MTNHP in 2015.
  3. Charged with implementing the Farm Bill.
  4. Would like to implement a Heritage information resources training program for NRCS employees this coming year.
  5. Interested in seeing Frost Free Days, Growing Degree Days, and REAP layers in MapViewer as underlying base layers that other data could be viewed in the context of.
  6. Happy to continue partnership with Heritage and implement a training program for NRCS employees.

MDT – Bill Semmens

  1. Three sections in MDT Environmental Services Bureau: (1) Resources (2) Engineering, and (3) Hazardous Waste
  2. Use Heritage data daily and it is invaluable to them.
  3. Need wetland data for wetland conservation and mitigation efforts for highway projects.
  4. Has budgeted supplemental core funding from MDT and it is not questioned because it is needed.  Anticipates continued contribution of supplemental core funding.
  5. Have a good relationship with Heritage folks and they are responsive when there is something wrong in their databases.
  6. MDT finds it very hard to be responsive to Sage Grouse Executive Order when they won't know exact location of leks under new approach to exchange of Greater Sage-Grouse lek data from FWP to Heritage.  Didn't initially think their projects would be impacted by Greater Sage-Grouse Executive Order, but have had to adjust some projects as a result of it.
  7. Starting point for environmental reviews is always Heritage and new Environmental Review tool will be very valuable to MDT.
  8. Missing a training for MDT consultants on how to use Heritage information.  A training to MDT consultants would reduce the workload for consultants and would reduce work for MDT Environmental as well.
  9. Would like to give us mile marker layer to get it incorporated in MapViewer.  Bill can facilitate this if it isn't already available in the state transportation layer.

Dept of Agriculture – Ian Foley and Steve Vantassel

  1. Bugs, snails, noxious weeds
  2. Noxious weed trust fund has contributed supplemental core funding under the educational category of the Noxious weed trust fund for many years and last year contributed supplemental core funding under both the educational and research categories.
  3. Work closely with DNRC and MSU for surveillance on pest species.
  4. MSU collection has 3 million specimens.  Could work on integrating invertebrate species lists into our Field Guide representation.  Ian will provide guidance on how to work with MSU.
  5. Could link to pest control bulletins on the Montana Field Guide where appropriate.

BIA GIS – Matt Lopez

  1. Would like to see BIA contribute toward supplemental core funding.
  2. Would like to see BIA contribute toward wetland mapping completion.
  3. Working with Kristy Bly at WWF on Black-footed Ferret and Black-tailed Prairie Dog reintroduction efforts.
  4. Mostly dealing with NEPA review and measuring distances to known habitat.
  5. MTNHP should work on MOUs of understanding with tribes on data exchanges.

Plum Creek – Lorin Hicks

  1. Merging with Weyerhauser and will be called Weyehauser.  Will be the largest private land owner in the country at 13 million acres.
  2. Has supported MTNHP with supplemental core funding and with lobbying in the Montana legislature.
  3. Forest land owners certify their forest management practices under the Sustainable Forest Initiative and this adds value to their timber.
  4. Works across 18 states and the Heritage Program in Montana is the best that they deal with.
  5. Has collaborated with Heritage on bat acoustic monitoring and Plum Creek has convinced Stimson and Stolz timber companies to install acoustic monitoring devices on their lands as well.
  6. Helped connect Heritage with the SFI implementation committee and Montana Forest Land Owners in general; Heritage has given presentations to the Montana Forest Council, Montana Wood Products Association, and to timer land owners that attended the Montana Forest Land Owners Conference in Helena in 2015.
  7. Also helped connect Heritage with the Montana Wood Products Association for lobbying in support of the Heritage program in the Montana State Legislature.

The Nature Conservancy – Brian Martin

  1. Need stream information for climate resiliency.  Water volume for people and agriculture.
  2. On land side, the half million dollar conservation fund for Greater Sage-Grouse may be a possible source of funding for land cover layer for use in the disturbance and habitat quality tools.
  3. TNC will have a variety of land conservation easement projects that he may be able to build Heritage into.
  4. Need to crosswalk with Elaine from Montana Association of Conservation Districts.

DEQ – Lynda Saul, Mike Glenn

  1. Really appreciate focus on wetland and riparian mapping.  We don't want to lose capacity for wetland and riparian mapping.
  2. Would like to see more effort with how to hold water on the landscape, especially along the lines of beaver reintroduction.
  3. Would like to talk with us about what Heritage will put in for on the next EPA wetland grant program grants cycle.
  4. Need outreach to conservation districts, water districts, Montana Association of Planners.
  5. Use Heritage data for open cut mines, coal mines and very happy with rapid response times.
  6. Has really appreciated bat trainings and bat acoustic monitoring.
  7. Would like to point out that DEQ mine program has been working on sagebrush restoration on coal mine restoration efforts for decades now and there may be lessons they have learned in those restoration efforts that would be of assistance to sagebrush community restoration efforts.
  8. Need to crosswalk veg and wildlife data gathered on coal mines with MTNHP.  Did this in the past with wildlife data.

Catena Consulting - Pete Feigley

  1. New proposed web tools are very exciting to him
  2. Need to provide training and guidance to consultants so that data is more likely to be used in an appropriate manner.
  3. Has received Greater Sage-Grouse Point data from FWP in a timely manner recently.

Five Valley's Land Trust – Jennie Tollefson

  1. Use Heritage data to identify project needs and value of projects in order to get funding for conservation easements.
  2. Need data and scientific expertise
  3. Intrigued by how land trusts could work with Heritage data behind the scenes
  4. Training for land trusts in how to use Heritage data would be of great interest.

Montana Audubon - Amy Seaman

  1. Would like to see Important Bird Area boundaries implemented into Mapviewer with custom field guide
  2. Would like to see bird data taxonomically listed on websites as well as in alphabetic order.
  3. Has funding to contribute to development of an updated Long-billed Curlew model for the Long-billed Curlew conservation initiative.
  4. Wants to see all BBS and IBA data integrated into Heritage databases.

Monday, November 2, 2015Senior Zoologist Position

MTNHP is recruiting a Senior Zoologist in our Helena, MT office.

Principle duties include:  (1) designing, securing funding for, and conducting inventory and applied research on priority species and habitats;  (2) leading animal species status ranking for Montana;  (3) coordinating the collection and management of statewide biological data in tabular, spatial, and image formats;  (4) contributing to conservation and management planning;  (5) building collaboration among agencies, biologists, and data contributors;  (6) developing reports, posters, technical publications, and web pages; and  (7) answering zoological related data requests, and providing expertise to resource managers and decision-makers. 

For a detailed job description and to apply, please visit the University of Montana Job Posting

This position is full-time with benefits, and is renewable annually based on funding and performance.  The Senior Zoologist reports to the MTNHP Program Coordinator and works closely with the Ecology and Botany Program Managers, database, GIS, and web specialists, and public and private partners to acquire and disseminate information on Montana's animal species, with an emphasis on species of conservation concern.  S/he supervises permanent and temporary employees and contractors as needed.

Required Skills and Experience

  • Graduate degree in zoology, wildlife biology, or related field and 3 to 5 years relevant professional experience or equivalent combination, including demonstrated proficiency in field inventory, monitoring, research design, sampling methods, and data analysis.
  • Knowledge of the animal species and habitats of Montana and the principles of applying scientific information to on-the-ground conservation and management.
  • Demonstrated ability to secure funding for inventory and status assessments of animal species.
  • Proven ability to express ideas clearly and concisely in oral, written, and graphic form.
  • Proven ability to assemble and organize scientific data, undertake statistical analyses, and prepare reports of findings.
  • Demonstrated experience in MS Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, and ArcMap, with ability to produce reports.
  • Demonstrated experience with developing, populating, and querying relational databases.
  • Ability to use advanced computer functions and to manipulate, analyze, and interpret data.
  • Knowledge of current research and management trends in the fisheries and wildlife biology.
  • Supervisory experience, including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives, and manage performance.
  • Successful experience in developing and managing budgets, directing employees, and contracting work for multiple projects simultaneously.

Application review will begin on January 15, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled.

TO APPLY, visit the UM Jobs website to view the full position description and details, and apply online for full consideration.  Candidates are asked to upload:

  • Letter of Interest / Cover Letter – addressing the stated required skills for the position
  • Detailed resume listing education and describing work experience
  • Names and contact information for three (3) professional references
  • Answers to a Supplemental Questionnaire

Questions regarding the structure and function of the position can be directed to Bryce Maxell at  Questions regarding the search or online application process should be directed to the UM Recruitment Team at the University of Montana via email at

Criminal Background Investigation is required prior to Offer of Employment.  In accordance with University policy; finalists for this position will be subject to criminal background investigations.  ADA/EOE/AA/Veteran's Preference Reasonable accommodations are provided in the hiring process for persons with disabilities.  For example, this material is available in alternative format upon request.  As an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, we encourage applications from minorities, veterans, and women.  Qualified candidates may request veterans' or disabilities preference in accordance with state law.  References *References not listed on the application materials may be contacted; notice may be provided to the applicant.  Testing Individual hiring departments at UM-M may elect to administer pre-employment tests, which are relevant to essential job functions.  Employment Eligibility.  All New Employees must be eligible and show employment eligibility verification by the first date of employment at UM, as legally required (e.g., Form I-9).

Thursday, October 8, 2015New Program Coordinator is Announced

Bryce Maxell takes over as the MTNHP Program Coordinator

Dear Commission, staff, and valued program partners,

I am pleased to announce that Bryce Maxell will begin his new role as the Program Coordinator of the Montana Natural Heritage Program on October 19.  Bryce has a long history with the program beginning in 1996 when he served as a field zoologist.  Bryce began his employment as the senior zoologist in 2005 and served as the interim program director from November 2009 through June 2011.  In addition to his incredible depth of scientific knowledge, Bryce brings to this position a deep understanding of the importance of public access to information made available through the State Library and the value this access brings to MTNHP information in service to our partners.  This knowledge and understanding, coupled with his unparalleled work ethic, yields great enthusiasm that Bryce has for the program and that he will bring to this new position.

State Librarian
Montana State Library

Thursday, October 1, 2015Allan Cox Retirement

Allan Cox has left the building...

Allan Cox retired from the Lead Program Manager position with the Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP) on October 1, 2015 to enjoy some well-earned travel and leisure time.  Allan has always been a great champion of the MTNHP and the Montana State Library (MSL), and worked to promote access, sharing, and coordination of geographic information and technology.  His daily presence at the Library will be greatly missed!

Allan started at the MSL in 1987 as the first GIS Coordinator for the Natural Resource Information System (NRIS), a unique program that provides for the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of data relating to the natural resources of Montana.  Allan worked to obtain funding from state agencies to establish the NRIS GIS Program by promoting the value of NRIS in providing spatial data to those agencies and to the public.  In 1992 he became the Director of NRIS and served in this capacity until 1998.  Under his direction, NRIS became a nationally recognized GIS program. 
During this period Allan also became a founding member of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and served on several committees and working groups promoting GIS activity and coordination, both in Montana and nationally.

In 1998 Allan left the MSL to pursue other work.  As a private GIS consultant he provided mapping support for wildfire incidents and also served as the Program Manager for the Montana Census and Economic Information Center (CEIC) at the Montana Department of Commerce.

Allan returned to the MSL in 2001.  Sue Crispin, then MTNHP Director, recruited Allan as the Systems and Services Program Manager for the MTNHP, a program under NRIS.  In this capacity, Allan oversaw the development of innovative data systems to support the management and dissemination of information on Montana's biological resources.  NatureServe, the coordinating organization of the international Natural Heritage Network, recognized this work with Technological Achievement awards in both 2006 and 2015.  Allan also worked tirelessly to promote the mission, activities, and services of the MTNHP to users, partners, and decision makers.

Allan took over the leadership of the MTNHP in 2012 as Lead Program Manager.  In this role he oversaw all MTNHP activities, including scientific, informational, budgetary, and outreach.  His vision and leadership have set the stage to promote the long-term viability and success of the MTNHP.

Allan's passion for incident support continues to this day:  he continues to serve as a volunteer EMT and Firefighter for the Montana City Fire Department, and gives time to working with fire professionals to ensure their use of the latest mapping technology to meet the wildfire challenges in our region.

We will greatly miss Allan's insight and innovation at the MTNHP.  We wish him all the best in his retirement!

Friday, August 21, 2015Coefficient of Conservatism Rankings for the Flora of Montana: Part I.

Coefficient of Conservatism Rankings for the Flora of Montana: Part I.

This report, published by Andrea Pipp, details the "C-values" for plants in Montana.  What are C-values?  Here's a brief summary:

Species and land conservation requires the ability to assess natural areas.  The Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) is a tool that uses plants to make standardized comparisons among open land areas, to set conservation priorities, to monitor project areas, and to restore habitats.  The basic component of the FQAI is the assignment of a coefficient of conservatism (C-) value to individual plant species.  For a given geography, C-values reflect the plant's tolerance to natural and/or human disturbance and its affinity to a specific, unimpaired habitat.

For a given geography, the C-value reflects the plant species' tolerance to natural and/or human disturbance and its fidelity to a habitat, and is scaled from 0 to 10.  Plants assigned a value of 0 are habitat generalists that respond positively to disturbance while plants assigned a value of 10 occur in very specialized habitats and are intolerant of disturbance.

Want to find out more?  See the full report below...

Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015Custom Field Guide PDFs

Take us with you!    Field Guide PDFs are now compiled on-the-fly!

As you drill down through the lists, click the icon to download a custom PDF that includes all  species for that level of Kingdom, Phylum/Division, Class, Order, or Family.

You can even get a custom PDF from your Search Results!  How cool is that!!


Thursday, May 28, 20152015 Wetland Stewardship Award

Wetland and Riparian Mapping Center receives the 2015 Wetland Stewardship Award!

Every two years, the Montana Wetland Council and the Montana Watershed Coordination Council jointly honor stewardship award recipients.  The Montana Wetland Stewardship Awards recognize individuals and/or teams who exemplify excellence, innovation and extraordinary commitment in wetland protection, restoration, and conservation.  The Montana Watershed Stewardship Award recognizes innovative, locally led approaches to restoring and enhancing Montana's watersheds.

After nearly 10 years, the goal of creating a statewide digital wetland and riparian mapping layer is within reach thanks to the dedicated team at the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Wetland and Riparian Mapping Center.  New digital mapping based on high resolution aerial imagery has identified more than 2 million acres of wetlands and 600,000 acres of riparian areas in Montana.  These maps, available in multiple electronic formats, provide crucial data for protection, restoration, conservation, and management.  Managers, planners, scientists, and watershed groups now have fast, free access to information on the type, size, location, and distribution of wetland and riparian resources.  These maps, one of 15 official GIS data layers for the State, are used at every level of government and in the private sector, and are being incorporated into statewide hydrography and land cover data sets as the most current source of water resource mapping.  Approximately 80% of Montana is complete and another 10% has been funded.

June 2015Wetland Plant Identification Workshops

The Montana Natural Heritage Program and the Montana Wetland Council are pleased to offer five 1-day wetland plant identification workshops in 2015.  These field-based workshops will be offered free of charge to attendees.  The target audience includes: biologists and managers from federal, state, and tribal agencies, non-profits, local government planners, private consultants, and others who work with wetland vegetation and issues of wetland management.  The courses will be designed to provide the basic skills required to identify Montana's common wetland plant genera (Carex, Juncus, Salix) and species, including invasive plants, and will be tailored to accommodate the plants common to the geographic area of the individual workshop.  The level of detail presented will also vary based on the knowledge and interest of participants at each workshop location.  Information related to the biology and ecology of individual wetland plant species may be covered.  Each workshop will be limited to a maximum of 20 participants and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.

The workshop dates and locations for 2015 will include the following:

To register online, click one of the links above.
To register by phone, call 406-444-4643.

Participants should expect to travel to one or more wetland/riparian field sites within the vicinity of the workshop location.  Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to and from field sites.  Carpooling will be encouraged.  Participants should wear appropriate field clothing and plan on bringing their own lunch and water.  Additional details including meeting location will be provided to registered participants prior to each workshop.

These training opportunities are being offered in part from funding by an EPA Region 8 Wetland Program Development Grant to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Workshop leader

Andrea Pipp is the State Botanist for the Montana Natural Heritage Program located in Helena.  Her botanical experience began in 1985 and over the years has encompassed learning about vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, and lichens.  Working for federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management), private business, and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Andrea has conducted plant surveys, mapped vegetation communities, monitored species and wetland development, and performed plant studies.  She has taught plant and lichen classes at the University of Montana and Carroll College, as a consultant, and for the Native Plant Society.  During her 14 years as a consultant, most of her work focused on wetlands.  She has extensive experience in wetland plant identification, delineation, and preliminary jurisdictional determinations.  She has worked on wetland and stream restoration and designed and implemented monitoring projects.  She is excited to teach these one-day, field oriented classes to people who want or need to know their wetland plants.

For questions or additional information concerning these workshops please contact Lynda Saul at 406-444-6652 or or Andrea Pipp at 406-444-3019 or

Monday, April 27, 20152015 NatureServe Award

Montana Natural Heritage Program receives 2015 Scientific & Technological Achievement Award!

We were proud to receive this award.  It is a fitting reflection of the creativity and dedication of all of the folks who work at MTNHP.  The award was primarily for our work in making our information more widely available, especially through our new web app the Species Snapshot.

Thursday, January 8, 2015New web app released: Species Snapshot

This new application provides a quick way to get a species list for your area.  View species lists filtered by County, House/Senate District, BLM Field Offices, Forest Boundaries, FWP Regions and Townships.  Data include the number of observations and species occurrences (SO's) for each species found in that area. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014Invasion of American bullfrogs along the Yellowstone River

Heritage scientists Dave Stagliano and Bryce Maxell contributed to a research article to be published in the Aquatic Invasions Journal.

Abstract  The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is a globally distributed invasive species that was introduced to the Yellowstone River floodplain of Montana.  Knowledge about floodplain habitat features that allow for bullfrog persistence and spread will help identify effective control strategies.  We used field surveys in 2010, 2012 and 2013 to describe bullfrog spread in the Yellowstone River floodplain and the habitat features that are associated with bullfrog occupancy and colonization.  Bullfrogs in our study area expanded from ~ 60 km in 2010 to 106 km in 2013, and are spreading to up- and downstream habitats.  The number of breeding sites (i.e., presence of bullfrog eggs or larvae) increased from 12 sites in 2010 to 45 sites in 2013.  We found that bullfrogs were associated with deeper waters, emergent vegetation and public-access sites, which are habitat features that characterize permanent waters and describe human-mediated introductions.  Control strategies that reduce the hydroperiod of breeding sites may help to limit bullfrog persistence and spread, while an increase in public outreach and education may help prevent further bullfrog introductions at public-access sites. 

Monday, October 6, 2014New Program Botanist

We are pleased to announce that Andrea Pipp of Helena has accepted the position of Botany Program Manager for the Heritage Program.  She began work with us on October 6th and is excited to join the Heritage team.

Andrea earned a BA in Zoology (1989) and a MS in Wildlife Biology (1998) from the University of Montana.  Her graduate study evaluated the independent effects of forest structure and forest age on the diversity and abundance of canopy lichens.  Andrea's 28-year career has been spent working in the fields of botany and wildlife biology for the federal, state, tribal, and private sectors.  Her expertise is in vascular plant (native/exotic), lichen, and bryophyte identification, surveying, and monitoring, wetland ecology, and technical writing.  Her project work has focused on issues regarding forestry, stream and wetland restoration, transportation, residential, and oil/gas development in Montana and other western states.

As the Program Botanist she wants to share her passion for Botany and Montana.  Through leadership and collaboration Andrea's goal is to strengthen the collection, evaluation, data management, and dissemination of information on Montana's botanical species.  She looks forward to working with agencies, academia, non-profits, resource professionals, and amateurs in providing services, acquiring information, and in teaching about botanical species.  She invites you to share your ideas, needs, and/or botanical interests with her.

Monday, May 12, 2014New MapViewer Released

Our newest version of MapViewer has been rolled out.  This version will eventually replace Tracker, which has been our primary mapping application since 2005.  This version features cached tiles, independently stacked map layers which allow you to turn them on/off without requiring a complete map redraw, new Add Observations pages with the ability to attach a photo to your submitted observations, and an overall faster map display.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014Free Training: Wetland and Riparian Maps

Montana Wetland and Riparian Maps: Where to Find Them and How to Use Them
The Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP) is creating maps of wetlands and riparian areas across Montana following USFWS NWI mapping standards.  This ongoing effort has resulted in the most comprehensive, up-to-date mapping database for wetlands and riparian areas in Montana.  This two-hour training, presented by the DEQ Montana Wetland Council, will show you how to easily access the mapping, including viewing the mapping in the MTNHP online Map Viewer, accessing it through an online map service, and downloading the mapping for use in a GIS.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013New Wildlife Bibliography Page

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has collaborated with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and members of the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society to create a new web page for online bibliographies on Fish and Wildlife Recommendations for Subdivision Development in Montana and the Effects of Recreation on Rocky Mountain Wildlife, both of which are tied to reports on these topics.  These online bibliographies are now on the Heritage Program's website.

Monday, June 3, 2013Updated Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has released an updated edition of the Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013MTNHP Zoologist Named Wildlife Biologist of the Year

Dr. Bryce Maxell, Senior Zoologist with the Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP), was named “Wildlife Biologist of the Year” by the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society last week at their annual meeting.

The Wildlife Society's awards program honors professional excellence, recognizes outstanding achievement, and highlights contributions to wildlife science and management.  The Biologist of the Year Award is presented annually for significant achievements in wildlife conservation anytime during the five years immediately preceding the award presentation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013Conservation easement data updated

Almost 75,000 acres of new (or previously undocumented) easements across the state have been added to the MTNHP Land Management Mapping Project's Conservation Easement feature class.  New easements include the recently signed Nature Conservancy easement in Valley County near the Bitter Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern, several new US Fish and Wildlife Service easements protecting wetlands and grasslands in Phillips County, and a large Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks easement in the Kootenai region, protecting important timber, fish, and wildlife habitat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012Southwest Montana Wetland Assessment

Karen Newlon published Southwest Montana Wetland Assessment.  This report summarizes the results of our second basin-wide assessment of wetlands in the Upper Missouri Headwaters of southwestern Montana.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012Dave Stagliano hikes the Bob Marshal

Dave Stagliano follows Marshal's only documented route into the Bob Marshal Wilderness, focusing on the differences in landscape from what Bob Marshal saw back in 1928.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012Checklist of the Birds of Montana

MTNHP just released a new Checklist of the Birds of Montana.  The checklist is current as of May 2012, with all 427 species observed in the state.  It provides valuable information on both breeding and overwintering status, as well as, indicates the 104 species considered rare in Montana.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012Wetland Riparian Data Toolset in MapViewer

MTNHP recently released its newest MapViewer toolset -- the Wetlands and Riparian Areas data for Montana. The new toolset allows users to view the most recently published and provisional wetland and riparian data for the state as well as the historical National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) data.  Along with viewing the mapped wetlands and riparian areas, users may also run summary reports for watersheds of interest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012Updated Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has released an updated edition of the Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants.

Monday, December 12, 2011Slugs and Snails Video

Paul Hendricks, Zoologist with the Montana Natural Heritage Program, is featured in a recent Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks "Montana Outdoors Report" video.  The report focuses on Montana's native land mollusks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011Powder River Fish and Bug Surveys Video

Most Montana rivers are well known to biologist, but in this outdoor report Winston Greely takes us to one Montana river that is just now being explored.  The Montana Natural Heritage Program's survey of fish and bugs on the Powder River is featured in a recent Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Montana Outdoors video.

Thursday, June 2, 2011Revised Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants

An updated version of the Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants is now available.  This revised version incorporates hundreds of status and taxonomic changes made in the past year, as well the addition and deletion of a few species to the list and the addition of summaries of the number of species by Family and Genus.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011Next Natural Heritage Program Director Announced

Please welcome Dr. Neil Snow as the new Director of the Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP) beginning July 1, 2011.  Dr. Snow has achieved an international reputation in botany and taxonomy. He is enthusiastic about leading the program and forging strong working relationships with partner organizations.  Dr. Snow spent many years in Colorado and Wyoming and has strong family ties to Montana.  He is committed to the mission of the MTNHP and to meeting the needs of partners and the citizens of the state of Montana.

The MTNHP has been well-served by Dr. Bryce Maxell the past 18 months while he served as both Senior Zoologist and Interim Director.  Dr. Maxell's dedication to the MTNHP is greatly appreciated, and the zoology program will continue to be strong and robust with him at the helm.

Monday, April 11, 2011Land Management Data in MapViewer

The Montana Natural Heritage Program recently released a new web application: the Natural Heritage MapViewer. The MapViewer is an interactive web mapping service that will, over time, enable users to perform a variety of tasks to access and use MTNHP databases and information. Recently, MTNHP added a new tool set to the MapViewer that enables the display and query of the Montana Land Management Data.  The database depicts four main categories of land management:
  1. Public Lands
  2. Conservation Easements
  3. Special designated lands such as wildlife refuges, Research Natural Areas, wilderness, etc.
  4. Lands owned by land trusts or other private conservation oriented entities.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011New Montana Land Cover GIS Data

The Montana Natural Heritage Program would like to announce that the most recent Land Cover data is now available online for download and as a Web Map Service.  This new data set is a Montana-specific land cover layer modified from the Pacific Northwest ReGAP project classification from 30 meter resolution Landsat imagery.  Descriptions of the land cover types can be found in the Ecological Systems Field Guide

Thursday, January 20, 201110 Years of SWG Grants

This year marks 10 years of the State Wildlife Grant Program (SWG), federal funds distributed to states for surveys and management of nongame species.  This national program is intended to prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered and has greatly expanded our understanding of the distribution and status of a number of species in Montana.

Monday, November 22, 2010Natural Heritage Program Webinars

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is pleased to announce a series of webinars this winter to help our users make better use of our information and web services.  To find out more or to register for one of the webinars, please email the instructor listed below with the webinar title and date you wish to attend.

All session are free and will run approximately one hour.

As of now, all webinars will use Go To Meeting webinar software.  Audio will be handled via conference call. The conference call ID and phone number, instructions for installing the software and joining the meeting will be emailed to participants prior to the session.

Read more on the Webinar web page

  • Title: Overview of MT Natural Heritage Program Data Resources
    Date: Tuesday January 25, 1-2 p.m.
    Instructor: Bryce Maxell,
    Participant Limit: None

  • Title: Wetland Data Resources
    Date: Tuesday February 15, 1-2 p.m.
    Instructor: Linda Vance,
    Participant Limit: None

  • Title: Introduction to the New Natural Heritage MapViewer for landcover and land management information
    Date: Tuesday February 22, 1-2 p.m.
    Instructor: Allan Cox,
    Participant Limit: 25

  • Title: Using the Natural Heritage Tracker to access animal and plant data, and to enter animal observations
    Date: Wednesday March 2, 1-2 p.m.
    Instructor: Allan Cox,
    Participant Limit: 25

  • Title: Using the Natural Heritage Tracker to access animal and plant data, and to enter animal observations
    Date: Thursday March 3, 1-2 p.m.
    Instructor: Allan Cox,
    Participant Limit: 25 ** Please note:  This session is available only to state and federal agencies.

Thursday, September 30, 2010New Natural Heritage MapViewer

The Montana Natural Heritage Program recently released a new web application: the Natural Heritage MapViewer.  The MapViewer is an interactive web mapping service that will, over time, enable users to perform a variety of tasks to access and use MTNHP databases and information.  This first release includes tools to view and query the new Montana landcover data with ties-ins to the Ecological Systems Field Guide, and tools to access and view over 12,000 geo-reference habitat photos for Montana.

Monday, September 20, 2010Montana Reference Wetland Network

In 2008, the Montana Natural Heritage Program was awarded an EPA Wetland Program Development Grant to develop a statewide network of herbaceous reference wetlands. The project focused on Montana's herbaceous wetland ecological systems.

At each site, we conducted a Level 2 rapid assessment that evaluates the general ecological condition of individual wetlands using field indicators and identifies specific stressors that correlate with wetland condition. At a subsample of wetlands, we also conducted Level 3 intensive vegetation assessments to gather quantitative data that can be used to validate rapid wetland assessments, characterize wetland condition, and diagnose causes of degradation. Wetland assessments were conducted during the summer of 2008 and 2009.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010Updated Land Stewardship Maps

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has released the 2010 version of its Land Stewardship Maps.  These maps are produced from its Land Stewardship Mapping database. The 102 maps are based on the US Geological Survey 1:100,000 scale topographic map series and use those boundaries as the indexing tiles.

The maps depict four main categories of land management:

  1. Public Lands
  2. Conservation Easements
  3. Special designated lands such as wildlife refuges, Research Natural Areas, wilderness, etc.
  4. Lands owned by land trusts or other private conservation oriented entities.
The maps are intended to display an overall picture of land management. The maps are not intended as a legal representation of public or private land boundaries.

All maps are provided in Adobe PDF format. The maps are designed to be printed at a size of 36 by 30 inches on a large format printer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010Mussel Relocation Video

You might have heard a lot about the "Bad" Aquatic Mussels trying to come into Montana, but in this Fish, Wildlife and Parks Outdoor Report, Winston Greely shows us how Wildlife Managers are helping our "Good" native mussels.  The Montana Natural Heritage Program's Aquatic Ecologist, Dave Stagliano, is featured in the video.

Friday, August 6, 2010New Conservation Easement Information and Web Map

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has released updated Conservation Easement data for 2010 and created an on-line interactive map to display the easement information.  The easements are part of the Montana Land Stewardship Mapping Program the MTNHP maintains.  In addition to the conservation easements, other information, including the managed areas data were updated.

Wednesday, July 28, 20102010 - 2014 Draft Strategic Plan Now Available

The Montana Natural Heritage Program has posted its 2010 to 2014 Draft Strategic Plan. This draft plan has been developed by staff and program managers and covers major goals and objectives for the Botany, Zoology, Ecology, and Information Services programs between July 2010 and June 2014.

Thursday, July 8, 2010Wetlands Data and Maps Now Available

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is excited to announce the availability of new wetlands data and maps for Montana.  New maps of the wetland and riparian areas are now available for downloading from the Wetlands and Riparian Mapping Center.  You may also view the progress status of the wetland mapping as well as download GIS wetlands data.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010Montana Mussels Poster Now Available

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is pleased to announce the release of the "Mussels of Montana" poster. This poster summarizes available knowledge of freshwater mussels in Montana from the last three years of surveys and data collection.  Read more...

Monday, June 21, 2010Milk Marias Wetlands Assessment

In 2008, the MTNHP was awarded an EPA Wetland Program Development Grant to develop a long term rotating basin wetland monitoring and assessment program. The pilot project for the rotating basin assessment program took place in the Milk and the Marias watersheds located in north central Montana.  A simple map and data retrieval web site was developed to provide access to the results.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010The Checklist of Montana Dragonflies & Damselflies

The Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP) and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (MTFWP) are pleased to announce The Checklist of Montana Dragonflies & Damselflies brochure.  With 53 dragonfly species and 29 damselfly species included, this checklist represents the most current information available for Odonates in the state.  This checklist provides information on distribution, abundance and seasonal occurrence for each species.  Hard copies of this brochure are available, free to the public, at the MTNHP office within the Montana State Library, as well as at the MTFWP HQ office in Helena.  A digital version can be downloaded from the MTNHP web site at the link below.

Thursday, February 18, 2010MTNHP Annual Report for 2009

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is pleased to announce the publication of its 2009 Annual Report. The report summarizes program activities, data products, and data delivery highlights during the 2009 calendar year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is pleased to announce the publication of A Checklist of Montana Vascular Plants. This initial list comprises over 2,500 species reported for the state of Montana and it is expected to be updated periodically as new information becomes available.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010Outdoor Bat Detection Video

The Montana Natural Heritage Program's bat detection work is featured in a recent Montana Outdoors Report.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010Data Services Survey

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is conducting a short survey of individuals who have recently received Species of Concern project reviews or data transfers from the Program. The survey is intended to gather basic information on the value and quality of the information and services you recently received. It is short and should not take more than a few minutes to complete.

Thursday, November 12, 2009New Species of Concern Report

The Montana Natural Heritage Program is pleased to announce a new Species of Concern (SOC) Report.  This new on-line report replaces our previous Species of Concern web search as well as the printed Species of Concern reports.

The new reports provide:

  • All of the narrative information found in the printed reports.
  • Up-to-date status information for SOC species.
  • Lists of species additions and deletions over time.
  • Enhanced search and filtering functions for generating custom reports.
  • Ability to save and print reports to an Adobe PDF file.
  • Additional information for the species including documented county occurrences, habitats for animals, and additional status information for plants and birds.

Please Note:  This new report is optimized for MS Windows Internet Explorer 8, Google Chrome, and FireFox.  There is a known issue that may cause a slower response in Internet Explorer 6 and 7.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009New Maps & Charts in the Montana Field Guide

We recently added new maps and charts to the species accounts in the Montana Field Guide. Check out the Greater Sage Grouse example to see the new maps and charts.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009Celebrating Sue Crispin's Service

Today we're celebrating and honoring Sue Crispin's 29 years of service with The Nature Conservancy and the NatureServe / Heritage Network.