The Missouri Breaks Monument is 15 years old today.
Overlooking the Cow Creek area in the Monument. The Wild and Scenic Missouri River and these eroded badlands are part of the 400,000 acres of public lands in the Breaks Monument, which was created 15 years ago today. (Photo Bob Wick, BLM.)
It was on this day in 2001 that President Bill Clinton proclaimed nearly 400,000 acres of central Montana prairies and badlands (with 149 miles of the Wild and Scenic Missouri River flowing through it) as the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
And here’s why it’s worth protecting, from the proclamation:
The area remains remote and nearly as undeveloped as it was in 1805. Many of the biological objects described in Lewis and Clark’s journals continue to make the monument their home. The monument boasts the most viable elk herd in Montana and one of the premier big horn sheep herds in the continental United States. It contains essential winter range for sage grouse as well as habitat for prairie dogs. Lewis sent Jefferson a prairie dog specimen which was, as Lewis noted at the time, “new to science.” Abundant plant life along the River and across the Breaks country supports this wildlife. The lower reach of the Judith River, just above its confluence with the Missouri, contains one of the few remaining fully functioning cottonwood gallery forest ecosystems on the Northern Plains. Arrow Creek, originally called Slaughter River by Lewis and Clark, contains the largest concentration of antelope and mule deer in the monument as well as important spawning habitat for the endangered pallid sturgeon. An undammed tributary to the Missouri River, Arrow Creek is a critical seed source for cottonwood trees for the flood plain along the Missouri.
And what makes it even more special is that the Monument is part of America’s newest, permanently protected collection of public lands: the National Conservation Lands. These lands are managed not by the National Park Service — with its fees, rules, paved trails and interpretive signs posted everywhere — but by the Bureau of Land Management. These lands, 31+ million acres in all, are free and open for you to explore on your own. These lands are the last places in America where you can truly get away from it all. Read more about these lands here.
Thank you for all you do to support our work to protect and restore not only the Missouri Breaks Monument, but all of the National Conservation Lands! We are honored to be building partnerships, restoring cottonwoods, and working to keep this place like it is for future generations.
— Beth Kampschror, Executive Director