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Butte may turn wetland area into preserve for bird and wildlife watching

Posted at 9:12 AM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 11:14:00-04

BUTTE — BUTTE - The wetlands located in the center of Butte is a unique place where birds and wildlife thrive and there are big plans to keep it that way.

“There are a lot of wetlands that have been filled in and destroyed and wetlands are in a premium across Montana, so we want to preserve this one,” said Gary Swant, a guide with GoBirdMontana.

The 17-acre wetlands owned by the Atlantic-Richfield Co. off of Lexington Avenue in the center of town may soon be turned over to the city’s parks and recreation department. They hope to add a parking area, fencing and a boardwalk so people can observe the wildlife.

“This could be an area where families can come down for an hour and see 20 to 25 species of birds and there’s very few places that you can do that,” said Swant.

Wildlife experts say the Butte wetland has a healthy ecosystem that attracts a variety of waterfowl.

“It’s a huge sign of an environment that’s recovering and a habitat that’s specifically selected by these critical species,” said Montana Tech Biologist Stella Capoccia.

Educators say they would support any initiative to support to preserve this wetland here in Butte, because it makes the perfect classroom outside the classroom.

“And my students have to graduate knowing their birds and this is where they come, this is their classroom, this is their lab, and we’ll spend hours our here,” said Capoccia.

If approved by the Council of Commissioners, the project could be completed by August of next year.