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Current Research


 The Nature Conservancy’s Current Research Projects
in Centennial Valley

  • Vegetation monitoring on conservation easements: photo monitoring, frequency plots, residual cover to assess the effects of grazing on plant communities
  • Monitoring on Sandhills Preserve for rare plants, effects of management experiments (grazing, fire, hand treatments), rare insects, invertebrates
  • Residual cover data collection and analysis
  • Conifer encroachment mapping and treatments in sagebrush steppe
  • Mapping, treating and monitoring invasive weeds throughout the valley
  • Monitoring aspen plots for the effects of browse, wildfire, and conifer competition
  • Measuring the effects of deformable shallow aquifer recharge structures and “beaver mimicry structures” on Long Creek and Middle Creek
  • Stream flow, photo point and pebble count monitoring on Long Creek and Hell Roaring
  • Groundwater monitoring on Long Creek
  • Supporting Range Rider program to monitor & reduce predator/livestock interactions

Current Research Projects and Sponsors (italicized)
for Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge in Centennial Valley

  • Monitor Trumpeter swan cygnets produced each year by aerial survey in September.
    The Refuge and the Migratory bird division of USFWS
  • Monitor Moose populations in the valley each year by aerial survey in January.
    MT FWP and at times the Refuge helps fund or fly.
  • Monitor Grizzly bear and wolf population and prevent conflict with livestock by use of Range Rider Program May – October.
    Sponsored by Centennial Valley Association, funded by livestock owners, MT Livestock Loss Board, USFWS, NRDC, DefendersOW, and GYC.
  • Monitor Sage grouse males on Leks in the Valley survey April.
    Sponsored by MFWP and Audubon but implemented by various including TNC, The Refuge, BLM and volunteers.
  • Monitor submerged aquatic vegetation in Lower Lake survey in late summer.
    Sponsored by The Refuge and paid as part of grants for research in the past by USGS, USFWS I&M grants, MT State U and U of MT.
  • Monitor flows in Red Rock Creek by USGS stream gage April through Oct each year.
    Flow data paid for by The Refuge & USFWS Water division, temperature data paid by MTFWP.
  • Monitor invasive plant populations and map by GPS surveys during the growing season.
    Several efforts including TNC, Beaverhead County, BLM, the Refuge and the USFWS Invasive Species Strike Team.
  • Monitor Oxygen in Upper Lake during winter for fish habitat suitability   Jan-Feb.
    Implemented by Refuge.
  • Research on lessor scaup duck nesting population demographics & production summer months.
    Implemented by Jeff Warren of Inventory and Monitoring division of USFWS. PhD project through Utah State U.
  • Research on Sage Grouse nesting, home range and use of the landscape in relation to various factors, including grazing.
    Led by Kyle Cutting, Refuge Biologist. PhD project through MT State U. funding listed by most to least percent $$ : USDA Sustainable Ag Research & Education grant (SARE), The Refuge, BLM TNC, MT DNRC, USFS
  • Research on Arctic grayling response to aggressive removal of non-native trout from the Upper RRL system.
    Sponsored by USFWS fisheries division and the Refuge. Partners include MTFWP and local food banks.
  • Research on beaver dams and passage over dams by Arctic grayling during spawning run up RR creek.
    Sponsored by the Refuge (Kyle Cutting), study design by Rebecca Levine of U of MT Western.  Michelle Anderson of U of MT Western also an advisor and co author.
  • Research on genetics of Arctic grayling in various streams in the Valley as proxy for how this species uses the landscape.
    MTFWP with assistance in data collection from USFWS
  • Research on how beaver dams have influenced Odell Creek channel development over time and pre history using carbon dating.
    Led by Rebecca Levine as PhD project, U of New Mexico, Funding from National Sci Foundation and support of the Refuge.
  • Many projects are also ongoing in the arena of "land management, restoration, fish passage, population management, range management, forest management and wetland management.
    Sponsored by The Refuge, TNC, MTFWP, USFWS fisheries division and USFWS private lands division.


Last Updated: 6/30/21