Warm Springs Ponds

Butte, Montana, United States

Certified Gold through 2022

Project Name
Project Type
Warm Springs Ponds
Wetlands & Water Bodies
Other Species
Awareness and Community Engagement
Other Education
Invasive Species
Invasive Species
About the Program
Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), a subsidiary of BP, manages the approximately 3,000-acre Warm Springs Ponds (WSP) site located in western Montana, along both sides of I-90. The property contains six ponds built in 1992 to provide water treatment for mine tailings and smelting waste in Silver Bow Creek. The site no longer supports mining activity and instead is undergoing an interim remedy for the impacts of historic mining activity. The ponds are encompassed by larger wetland habitats that provide the components necessary to support the lifecycles needs of local wildlife. The site features grasslands, wetlands, riparian and lowland shrublands, shoreline vegetation, cottonwood groves and water bodies. ARCO maintains the site with assistance from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area, in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem and provide recreation activities for the community. The team offers education opportunities to the community to learn about wetlands, water treatment systems and wildlife management. The team continues to learn and adapt their management practices to promote a healthy ecosystem and set an example in the community for environmental stewardship.

Practices and Impacts
  • The six ponds are managed with assistance from technical partners. A diverse mix of wetland plants (grasses, forbs, shrubs) and trees) have been inventoried at the site, and a planting mix has been seeded into specific areas to improve herbaceous and vegetative habitat. SolarBees installed in the ponds circulate water and maintain temperature gradients.
  • The team has observed and recorded 217 different avian species at the site. ARCO aims to continue protecting migratory flyways through their lands and providing important migratory and breeding habitat at WSP to ensure that native avian species production is maximized, and that avian habitat and food sources are protected. Efforts are consistent with the Montana State Wildlife Action Plan and other regional avian initiatives.
  • Team members minimize disturbances on-site by installing fencing around the perimeter of the property to allow safe passage for wildlife. In addition, the team erected nesting boxes and bat houses to increase biodiversity of native species. Signage is used in areas to mitigate noise pollution, motorized vehicles and hunting to protect wildlife and habitat.
  • The team manages the property for balance between wildlife populations and the plant, soil, and water resources that support them. By providing public hunting access through ARCO’s Wild Game Management Program, the team controls populations at or below the carrying capacity of rangelands while retaining sanctuary in key habitat areas to allow for development of healthy age classes, sustained recruitment, and critical rest and forage during the winter and through spring natal periods.
  • The team has reconstructed 30 miles of fishery habitat, creating a sustainable fishery and macroinvertebrate community at the headwaters of the Clark Fork River. The ARCO team has worked to improve this habitat while administratively restructuring water rights agreements to dedicate sustained flows during hot, dry and low-flow summer months in a direct attempt to improve habitat conditions for native fish species. On-site fish species include rainbow trout, brown trout, westslope cutthroat trout, brook trout, largescale suckers, longnose suckers and bull trout.
  • The team offers a space for educators, students and the general public to learn about a variety of habitat-oriented topics. In recent years, the team has engaged over 500 visitors annually, who explore the site using provided signage and information kiosks.
  • Employees and contractors maintain and preserve native vegetative cover primarily through biological control of noxious weeds.