National Bison Range

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Project Title: Replace Mission Creek West Bridge (FFS #R6HN)

State: Montana

Initial Project Description: Stimulus funds paid for a new bridge on the National Bison Range in western Montana. The project was one of the Mountain-Prairie Region’s highest priority projects.

The National Bison range is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the U.S. The Service established the refuge in 1908 with Congressional appropriations. The American Bison Society purchased the original herd of bison in 1909 with private money and donated them to the range, helping to prevent bison extinction.

There are 350 to 500 bison residing on the range. The range has populations of elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep as well as coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats. Refuge personnel have spotted over 200 bird species including eagles, hawks, meadowlarks, bluebirds, ducks, and geese.

The 60-foot bridge will span a section of the Mission Creek. The bridge provides the most direct access for Service vehicles from the maintenance, fuel, and supply facilities to the main refuge.

The original wooden bridge’s rating declined from 40-ton to eight-ton over a four-year stretch. The bridge first failed inspection following a high-water event, and progressively deteriorated. Finding a replacement became an immediate priority.

The rating decline prevented fuel and service trucks from accessing the fuel storage area via the bridge. The trucks had to leave the refuge using private property to access the storage areas. The landowner authorized the use, but the Service needed a permanent solution.

Workers will install the pre-fabricated metal bridge upon its completion, depending on ground and weather conditions.

June 2011 Project Update: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contracted the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe to replace the failed Mission Creek West Bridge at the National Bison Range. The bridge was originally constructed in the 1960s; after the bridge failed a recent inspection, the National Bison Range had to reduce the weight allowed on the bridge, limiting its use as a crossing point for heavy equipment. The Recovery Act allowed the Bison Range to construct a stronger, safer metal bridge. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe subcontracted the work to two local contractors who completed the project in May 2011.

Visit the National Bison Range website for additional information.

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Originally posted 01/08/2010
Page Completed 06/20/2011

DOI Recovery Investments by Bureau

Last Updated: February 02, 2012
Content contact: recovery@ios.doi.gov