DU improving water quality and habitat at Benton Lake NWR

Staff members at the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) have been concerned about the refuge's increased levels of selenium, a naturally occurring substance that can be toxic. In addition to water challenges, the Great Falls-area NWR wanted to improve the quality and quantity of its habitat.

Ducks Unlimited and partners restored 2,194 acres of wetland habitat on the wildlife refuge. In the second phase of the project, DU installed a new water-control structure to help the Benton NWR staff manage water levels. The water-control structure contains a 36-inch reinforced concrete pipe with a concrete headwall and stopping logs.

"Our partnership with DU and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) has been extremely beneficial for the refuge. The two structures we installed gave us water management capabilities, essential to our selenium remediation and water availability challenges," said project leader Rob Bundy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The project was funded by a $75,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant, which DU and partners matched. Partners included the FWS, MFWP, Pheasants Forever and the North American Wetland Conservation Council.

Benton Lake NWR is part of a 163,304-acre national wildlife refuge complex. It encompasses a diverse landscape of wetlands, mixed-grass prairie, forests, intermountain grasslands, rivers and lakes.