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Fed Grant to Help MT Refuge Restore Wetlands, Bird Habitat

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The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Montana. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons)
The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Montana. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
May 6, 2021

KALISPELL, Mont. -- A Montana wetland restoration project is among the recipients of a federal grant to preserve migratory bird habitats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded $78 million in grants to restore nearly half a million acres of wetlands across the country. $1 million is coming to Swan Valley Connections to help restore about 600 acres of the Swan River National Wildlife Refuge, east of Flathead Lake.

Luke Lamar, conservation director for Swan Valley Connections, said people can find unique species such as trumpeter swans and black terns at the refuge.

"The North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant that we have been awarded is basically the only federal funding source for the conservation of wetland habitat for migratory waterfowl or migratory birds," Lamar explained.

The grant will also help conserve more than 3,200 acres on public and private lands in the Swan and Blackfoot valleys. Work is scheduled to begin this summer.

Lamar noted the refuge is home to other species such as grizzly bears that will benefit from the restoration work. He added wetlands have many important roles, including getting rid of fine sediments that harm trout-spawning habitat.

"They can filter out pollutants. They're excellent flood storage, which can reduce downstream erosion and flooding issues. They can help recharge groundwater and aquifers," Lamar outlined. "A lot of folks don't know that they're excellent carbon storage."

Wetlands play a key role in carbon sequestration. All the terrestrial wetlands in the continental United States hold 13.5 billion metric tons of carbon, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency said U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions totaled about 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2019.

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