A healthy native plant community is the foundation on which all healthy habitats are built. Missoula Conservation Lands are home to hundreds of native plant species that inhabit grassland, forest, wetland ecosystems. These vegetation communities serve as habitat for hundreds more species of insects, birds, fish, mammals, fungi, and other lifeforms.
Missoula Conservation Lands fall into four major habitat types. Each vegetation type is defined by the dominant species of plant present, and each contains a unique mix of plants and animals.
We see different types of plants growing in different locations, because of environmental, biological and disturbance factors which promote or limit a plant's ability to survive and persist in that location. Environmental factors include things such as how much surface or groundwater is available, soil texture, topography, etc. Biological factors include things such as the presence of exotic plants or competing vegetation, browse by mammals, pests, disease etc. Disturbance factors include things such as floods, fires, off-trail recreation, or mechanical soil disturbance.
Missoula Conservation Lands has a mandate to manage each land parcel differently, based on its recreational and conservation value. On parcels where native biodiversity is highly intact, conservation values receive priority consideration, whereas more degraded areas are more actively managed for recreation.
MCL also has a mandate to conserve and restore native habitats and biodiversity. Deciding on a management strategy to protect and restore biodiversity while allowing appropriate recreation requires an understanding of what organisms and processes are necessary to support a given ecosystem.