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MONTANA STATE LIBRARY
^^^^fcr/o« MAR 1 2 2004
RARE PLANT INVENTORY AND PLANT CQ^-UNITY DESCE^IPTIONS
OF THE SVJEET GRASS HILLS
PROPOSED AREA OF CRITICAL ENVIRON^-EOTAL CO^JCERN (PACEC),
TOOLE AND LIBERTY COUNTIES, NDNTANA
L'nited States Department of Interior
Bureau of Land Managsrent
812 14th Street North
P.O. Box 2865
Great Falls, Montana 59401
Vfestem Technology and Engineering, Inc.
P.O. Box 6045
Helena, Montana 59604
In Cooperation With:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library Building
1515 East 6th Avenue
Helena, Montana 59620
ORDER.^r®. Mir950 - PH9 - 366
1 . INTRODUCTION ' 1
2 . METHODS 3
3.0- RESULTS 5
3.1 RARE PL^M" EVALUATION ' . 5
3.1.1 Ranunculus cardiophyllus (Heart-leaved buttertrup) 5 "
3.1.2 Claytcnia lanceolata variety (Springbeauty) 7
3.1.3 Halimolobos virgata (?) (Tvri.ggy halimolobos) - 8
3.2 SPECIES LIST 8
• 3.3 VEGETATION TYPE DESCRIPTiaNS 11
3.3.1 Literature Review 11
3.3.2 Habitat/Ccmmunity Types of the
Sweet Grass Hills 19
4 . MANAGEKENT REOCM-ENDATIONS 31
5 . LITERATURE CITED 34
APPENDIX A. VASCULAR PLANT SPECIES BY CLASS, SWEET GRASS
HILLS, TOOLE COUNTY AND LIBERTY COUNTY,
tCNTANA, 1989 A-1
APPENDIX B. PHOTOGRAPHS B-1
TABLE 1. Subalpire and alpine plant taxa v;hich may represent
range extensions in the Sv;eet Grass Hills PACEC 10
TABLE 2. Habitat or ccjTTnunity types identified in or peripheral
to the Sv;eet Grass Hills 20
TABLE 3. Percent cxrnposition (by v/eight) of three near-pristine
sites in foothills grassland of the Svjeet Grass ' Hills . . 24
TABLE 4. Percent conposition (by v.'eight) of ijngrazed and grazed
foothills prairie in the Sweet Grass Hills (Gold Butte
FIGURE 1. Sv;eet Grass Hills ertphasis area - surface a-.';rership
FIGURE 2. Vegetation profiles along two north- south transects
through the nxntane regions of East Butte 14
The Sv;eet Grass Hills proposed Area of Critical Environrrental Concern
(PACEC) ccmprises about 3,220 hectares of Bureau of Land KanageiTent
surface in Toole and Liberty counties of north-central Montana (Figure
1). The Hills are the smallest and, in many respects, the most
isolated of the intrusive "island" mountain ranges of the northern
Great Plains (Thcrrpson and Kuijt 1976a). High peaks rise abruptly from
the surrounding prairie, supporting montane to sutelpine plant
ccrmrunities . Elevations within the PACEC range frcm about 1340 m to
over 2100 m en tog of Vfest Butte. The geographic position, rugged
topography and elevational range support a diversity of plant
ccnrnunities more closely related to the Rocky Mountains than the
Northern Great Plains. The presence of both floras results in a unique
ass3Tiblage of plant ccrrmunities .
The purpose of this inventory was to assess the status of any rare
plants potentially occurring within the PACEC. Secondary objectives
v.'ere to generate a cctrprehensive species list and briefly describe the
major plant carrnunities of t2~e PACEC.
Tasks ccnpleted prior to the field inventory included:
1. Search of Montana Natural Heritage Program data base to
determine rare plants previously identified in the area.
2. Review of local and regional literature regarding rare plants
and plant ccmmunities pertinent to the area.
3. Cbtain USGS topographic iraps and outline PACEC boundaries.
4. Ccxitact landc^,Ters and obtain acosss across private lands.
Field work was ccrducted June 13-14, 1989 ard July 18-21, 1989. The
range of vegetaticxi types en West, East and Middle (Gold) Buttes was
surveyed by pedestrian reccxinaissance. Species lists v^ere made at
selected locations; taxa not readily identified in the field were
collected and pressed for verification in the office. Photograjiis were
taken of representative plant ocnnmunities .
The site previously recorded for Ranunculus cardic^yllus Hock.
(Thcnpscn and Kuijt 1975b) was intensively surveyed, although it is
located outside the PACEC boundary. Likely habitats for R.
cardicphyllus within the PACEC were also inventoried.
Plant specimens \-^£re identified in the office using a stereozocm
dissecting microscope. Taxonomic manuals used for plant
identification included Hitchcock and Crcnquist (1973), Hitchcock et
al. (1955-59), Dom (1984), Great Plains Flora Associaticn (1986) and
3.1 PJ^FE PLJ^KT EV?lLiATION
Lesica et al. (1934) list 34 vascular plant species of limited
distribution in the north-central region of Montana. Of those listed,
only one, heart-leaved buttercup ( Ranunculus cardiophyllus ) vras listed
by Thcrrpson and Kuijt (1975b) as occucring in the S\veet Grass HilJ,s.
Because of the relative paucity of botanical information for the Hills,
all species not readily identified in the field were collected to
evaluate other potentially rare taxa, and to obtain as ccnplete a
species list as possible. Three species have been identified as
meriting additional investigation: heart-leaved buttercup,
springbeauty ( Claytcma lanceolata Pursh var. flava (A. Nels.) C.L.
Hitcho. ) and t\-7iggy halimolobos ( Halimolobos virgata ) (Nutt. ) Schulz.
3.1.1 Ranunculus cardiophyllus (Heart-leaved buttercup)
F?anunculus cardio^T/Uus has been recorded frcm only six locations in
Montana: four staticns in Glacier County, one in Stveetgrass County,
and one in Toole County (Montana Natural Heritage Progra-n database,
Helena . ) The locaticn din Toole County is frcm the Vtest Butte in the
S\-,eet Grass Hills, erd \s'as collected by Miller and Hassinger ( 4828 ) on
West Butte on June 30, 1975. The collection site ;-;as described as a
"flat, exposed, meaoa.sy area near Fred and George Creek" (University of
Lethbridge herbarium label ) .
Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973) list heart-leaved buttencup as occurrirg
in rrountain rreada.'.'S frcm British Columbia to Alberta and Sasl<atchev.cn,
sporadically south to northeast VJashington, and in I'tycming, Utah, l^.-i
hfexico and Arizona. The eastern limit of the species in the U.S. is
apparently the Dakotas, \vhere it is found infrequently in v.et rreada/.'s
and along streams in the Black Hills of South Dakota (Van Bruggen 1976;
Dom 1977) and in MxcKenzie County, North Dakota (Great Plains Flora
Association 1986). The ta>:on is apparently poorly understood (Welsh et
al. 1987) and is similar to R^ inamoenus Greene and R^ pedatifidus
Smith. It is considered by Scoggan (1978) to be a variety of R.
pedatifidus . Heart- leaved buttercup has been reported for both the
Saskatcha-ran and Alberta portions of the Cypress Hills, approximately
112 km northeast of the Svjeet Grass Hills (Breitung 1954; de Vries and
Bird 1968). To the rorthv?est, Kuijt (1982) lists the species as
occurring on rather dry grassy meadot^ra at lcf,-7 elevations in Watertcn
Lakes National Park.
Moss (1959) lists heart-leaved buttercup as ccnmon in moist prairie and
mountain rreadows of Alberta, ^vtdle Locman and Best (1979) report the
species as unocrrmDn in v.^stem parklands of the Canadian prairie
provinces. In the Cypress Hills, it is ccrrmon in grasslands of the
plateau (Breitung 1954).
Habitat affinity for heart-leaved buttercup changes frcm north to
south. In the north it is characterized as occurring primarily in
mountain iTeadCTv's at lav to mid-elevations (Hitchcock and Cronquist
1973, Kuijt 1982, Vteber 1975, Van Bruggen 1976, Harrington 1964 and
Dom 1988). In Arizona, ha-^ver, it is found in pine forests frcm
7,CX)0 to 9,500 feet (Kearney and Peebles 1960).
Vfest Butte v.-as revisited in an atterrpt to relocate hsart-leaved
buttercup. Several Ranunculus specimens v.'ere collected, but R.
cardiophyllus v.-as not found. Given the inprecise location reported on
the herbarium label frcm the previous collection, a gereral site
traverse was conducted in suitable habitats in and near the PACBC.
The veracity of the previous collection is not questioned; failure to
relocate the population may indicate that it is very small, or that it
has been extirpated. Also, the previous collection may have been made
on private land outside the Sv/eet Grass Hills PACEC.
3.1.2 Claytcnia lanceolata variety (Springbeauty)
Springbeauty ( Claytcsiia lanceolata var. flava ) is listed as critically
imperiled in Montana because of extreme rarity; it is designated "C2"
by t±>e U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (current information indicates
that proposing to list as endangered or threatened is possibly
appropriate but substantial biological infoxmation is not on file to
support an iirrrediate ruling); and as sensitive by the U.S. Forest
Service (Shelly 1989). Claytonia lanceolata is ccmrron in the Hills
and several specirrens v;ere collected. Specirrens collected have v.Mte
floisers and narrow leaves, and may represent either variety multiscapa
or a v;hite form of variety flava (Shelly pers. ccrnn. ). Systematic
studies of these ta>3, by J.S. Shelly and P. Lesica, ere not yet
ccnpleted, and a positive identification cannot te irade at this tirre.
Upon ccnpletion of these studies, the Montana Natural Heritage Rnogram
v;ill update the Bureau of Land t>^anagement as to the identification of
these plants. The taxon is ccmrron on East and Vfest Buttes in grassland
habitats, and no imrediate threats are apparent.
3.1.3 Hali'molobos virgata (?) ( Tv;iggy halimolobos )
Plant specimens tentatively identified as tv;iggy halimolobos
\ l-\l^' "" ( Halimolobos virgata ) v/ere collected near a rock outcrop en foothills
north of Mount Brcs-n in the East Butte area. The specimens depart from
the published species descriptions, in having pubescent siliques and
shorter petals. Specimens are beirg sent to the New— York— Botanic
:'xt^ i'i^>^^'.'Jv.w '\
1 ' V /
Garden- for verification. Shelly (pers. ccnrn. , Etecenber, 1989) also \- ,,■
collected specimens tentatively identified as Halimolobos from the Bull _ \
River in northwestern Montana. If correctly identified, these
collections represent new state records for Montana. Twiggy
halimolcixs is previously documented frcm open prairies to la.',er
mountains, ficm Yukon to Aiberta and Saskatche;-ran, south to eastern
Idaho, Wycming, Utah and Colorado (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973).
3.2 SPECIES LIST
Thcrpson and Kuijt (1976b) prepared a comprehensive species list for
the S\seat Grass Hills during their investigations in 1972-1975.
Hagener (1972) and Hagener and Hagener (1977) list common plants of
^pendix A lists plant species encountered during the 1989 rare plant
inventory. Appendix A also lists additional species recorded for the
Sweet Grass Hills area by Thcnpson and Kuijt (1976b), but v.-hich v/ere
not observed in the rare plant inventory conducted by VJESTECH.
A total of 339 species v;ere recorded, of v±iich 71 were gramiroids, 228
\'?er^ forbs, 27 v;erB Icf^i shrubs and subshrubs and 13 v.ere trees and tall
shrubs. Seme of the taxa listed by Thcrtpson and Kuijt (1976b) may not
occur vd-thin the PACEC boundaries surveyed by VESTECH; ha.'^ver they are
at least proxirral and are included in Appendix A since many of these
species are expected to occur in the PACEC.
Although very few rare plant species have been listed for the Sv^eet
Grass Hills and vicinity (Lesica et al. 1984), a number of taxa are of
phytogeographical interest due to island biogeography considerations.
Sore species within the PACEC which may represent range extensions of
subalpine/alpine taxa are included in Table 1. Thcrrpson and Kuijt
(1976a) listed cordilleran species of phytogeographic interest in the
a-reet Grass Hills.
Table 1. Subalpins and alpine plant ta:<a v.tach may represent range
extensions in the Sv.-eet Grass Hills PACEC (see Appendix A),
* identified by Thcnrpson and Kuijt (1976a) in the Sweet Grass Hills,
but not observed during the 1989 VJESTECH inventory of the PACBC.
3.3 VEGETATION TYPE DESCRIFTICKS
3.3.1 Literature Reviev;
Vegetaticxi ccrmiunities of the Svveet Grass Hills have been mapped and
described in very general terms during several statev/ide efforts. Ptoss
and Hunter (1976) utilized the USDA Soil Qxservation Service range
site irethodology to rrep climax vegetation of Kicntana based oi soils apd
climate. In the &.-.eet Grass Hills, upper elevation sites v;ere irejped
as a forest-grassland cocrplex in the. 15 to 19-inch precipitaticn zone
en shallow to moderately deep soils with a frigid tenperature regime.
Species occurring en forested sites include Douglas-fir, sncwberry,
spixea, Oregcn grape and Idaho fescue. Grassland species listed were
Idaho fescue, bluebunoh vrf-eatgrass, Columbia needlegrass, lupine and
arrowleaf balsamroot. Foothills surrounding the forest grassland
ccrrplex were mapped as a silty range site, also in the 15 to 19-inch
precipitaticn zcre. Dominant species listed for this rrepping unit
jLnclude rougi^ fescue, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. The
prairie surrounding the Sweet Grass Hills vras mapped as a silty-clayey
range site ccnplex in the 10 to 14-inch precipitaticxi zone of the
Western Glaciated Plains Geograj^iical Area. This range site occurs
across much of northHcentral Montana, frcm v.'sst of Shelby to near
Havre. Dominant species en silty sites include needle-and- thread,
western and thickspike wheatgrass, green needlegrass, bluebunch
wheatgrass, prairie junegrass, blue grama and several forts. Similar
species corpositicn is listed for the clayey range site, although
relative abundance v.ould be expected to differ frcm silty sites.
Payre (1973) rrapped and descriJDed rangeland sites of yontana. Upper
elevation forested sites in the Sv.'eet Grass Hills v;ere irapped as
lodgepole pine/Couglas-fir forest. Foothills and grassy iTeada^;s vjere
mapped as a Foothills Grassland type. Principal forage species listed
include fescues, v.'heatgrasses and needle-and- thread. The
distinguishing feature of this type is the nrbcture of montane and
plains species. Vegetation of the plains surrounding the Sv.eet Gra^s
Hills is descriJDed as Northern Grassland, including blue graira, v;estem
v;heatgrass, needle-and-thread and dryland sedges (threadleaf and
needleleaf ) .
Pfister et al. (1977) have developed a ccnprehensive classification of
Montana's forest habitat types; however, their study did not ir^clude
stands frcm isolated, ncn-U.S. Forest Service-managed mountain ranges
in central and eastern Kcntana. Mueggler and Stewart (1980) have
classified grass and shrub ccrrmunities of the western cne-third of
Montana. The Sv.'eet Grass Hills were not included in this
classification, although sore similarities with their descriptions are
apparent. Hansen et al. (1988) described riparian dominance types of
Montana. Their ocrtpilation may be applicable to sore riparian types in
the Sweet Grass Kills; ho-.'.ever, no sanpling or literature pertaining to
the Hills was used in the classification.
Qualitative, site-specific descriptions of rrajor vegetation ccmmunities
of the a-.^et Grass Hills are presented by Thcnpson and Kuijt (1976a).
Trey divided plant ccrmunities elevationally intX) t;'« groups: plains
ccmmunities occxirring primarily belcw 14CX) m, and nx^ntane ccmrnunities
primarily above 1400 n. Figure 2 profiles vegetation ccmmunities
across the montane regicn of East Butte.
Agricultural land . Vost of the flat, arid prairie surrounding the
Hills has been altered by agriculture. Little native prairie,
prcbably formerly dominated by western wheatgrass, needle-and-
thread and blue grama, new rerrains.
Foothills prairie . The higher grasslands surroundirg the Hills
(about 1100 to 1500 m) are similar to the foothills prairie
described by Kuchler (1964), normally supporting stands dcminated
by wheatgrasses, fescues and needle- and- thread .
Riparian shrubteiy . Edges of intermittent prairie streams are
lined with shrub ccrrmunities generally dcminated by serviceberry,
havrthom ard chrf^echerry. Scattered stands of boxelder are
present alcng seme drainage bottcms.
Riparian forest . A deciduous forest associaticn dcminated by
black cottcnwood and plains cottonwood extends into the mcntane
region of the Hills, reaching elevations up to 1500 m alo-g Breed
Creek and SirnTDns Creek. Understory ccnsists largely of dense
shrubbery including Rocky Mountain maple, serviceberxy, dcgvxDod,
hav/thom, chokecherry and v;illcws.
Potholes and reservoirs . Saiall glacial kettles, from a f&^ square
meters to several hectares, are found as high as 1300 m and are
abundant north and west of East Butte. Pcnds are shallow, and
most are usually dry by late July. Scrre sutport cattail, rushes,
bulxushes and sedges. Since no natural lakes or marshes are found
within the Hills prcper, natural wetland ccrrmunities similar to
marshes of the Cypress Hills (Breitung 1954) are absent from the
Sweet Grass Hills.
Nfcntane grassland . Dry south- facing slopes and foothills between
1500 and 2000 m, and many ncn-forested portions of north-faciiX[
slcpes, are dcminated by rough fescue, Idaho fescue and shrubby
cinquef oil .
Subalpine grassland . Small grassland areas above timberline on
the sumnaits of Kjount Royal and Viest. Butte appear distinct frcrn the
Ic^-^r-elevation mcntane grassland, and somewhat resemble alpire
turdra. Caespitose vegetaticn is dcminated by stunted rough
fescue and shrubby cinquef oil, with American bistort a irejor
ccmpo-ent. A more rroist grassland found on the ste^, shady north
face of Mount Royal is dcminated by sedge species.
Douglas-fir forest . Douglas-fir forest ccnprises the la,-«st
coniferous forest of the Hills. Pcnderosa pine, more carmen in
other isolated mountain rarges, is absent; apparently, base
elevations of the Hills are above the cold limits of pcrderosa
pine. The understory of Douglas-fir forest is the most developed
of all coniferous forests found in the Hills. Shrubs are
abundant, including serviceberry, Oregon grape, prince's pine,
ocmmcn juniper, russet buffal(±eny and v^iite spirea. Ccnspicuous
forbs include bluntleaf sandwort, orange arnica, clematis, spotted
coralrodt, Virginia strawberry, northern bedstxaw, Richardscn's
geranium, stcrecrop, starry Solcmcn's seal and rreadcwrue. A drier
Douglas-fir savannah occurs on some south slcpes, while Douglas-
fir and limber pine are found en the rocky, Icwer south slope of
Limber pine woodland . Limber pine occurs alcrg forest edges
throughout the montane region, forming pure stands en dry ridges
east of KDunt Brown.
Lodgepole pine forest . Dense, even-aged stands of lodgepole pire
occur en steeper, north-facing slopes from 1500 to 2100 m. The
understory is sparse and includes heart-leaved arnica, twinflcwer,
white spirea, sidecells pyrola, ore-flas'ered wintergreen, green
wintergreen, dwarf huckleberry, blue huckleberry, myrtle
huckleberry and grouse v;hortleberry.
Spruce-lodgepole pire forest . This type is found en north-facing
slopes ard alcxg streams from 1600 to 2100 m on East Butte cxily.
Lodgepole pine ard spruce dcminate a sparse understory similar in
ccmpositicn to the lodgepole pine forest.
Temperate subalpire fir forest . Subalpine fir and spruce dcminate
steep, shady north-facing slcpes from 1650 to 1800 m above Rittocn
Gulch (west side of East Butte). This unusually low-elevation
oocurrence of subalpine fir rray be due to cold air drainage down
the canycn. Scattered lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir are found in
the type. Tne understory includes Rocky fountain maple, harebell,
fireweed, twinflower, one-flowered wintergreen, russet
buffaloberry and grouse whorU-eberxy.
Subalpine forest . V/hitebark pine is a major conpcrient of forests
near the sunmits of Nfeunt Brcwn and Mount Royal. Lodgepole pine,
limber pire, spruce, and, en the north face of Mount Brown,
subalpine fir also occur. These stands are apparently above the
cold limits of Dcxiglas-fir. VJhitebark pine and lodgepole pine
dominate forest stands at timber line en the summit of Vtest Butte.
On Vfest Butte, subalpine fir is found only en the dry, rocky ridge
south of the summit, v^-^ere its stunted, wind-blo^sTi form resembles
kxummholz. Understory plants acre virtually absent frcm most
subalpine forest stands.
Aspen groveland . Groves of aspen surrouri^ed by grassland are
found up to 1800 m. These stands support a dense understory of
herbaceous and shruMDy species, and are similar to the aspen
groveland described by Lynch (1955) on the east slcpe of tie
Aspen woodland . Clcnes of aspen occur within the Douglas-fir
forest at elevations between about 1400 and 1600 m. These stands
have understories similar to the Douglas- fir forest and prcbably
represent a fire-caused serai stage.
Mountain ravines . In the higher mcntane regions, between 1500 and
2000 m, major streams flew through steep rocky ravines. These
ravines are generally bordered by coniferous forest and support
stands of aspen and Rocky Mountain maple.
Rubble slopes . ' Higher montane steep slcpes v;ith loose, lichen-
covered rocks (1 to 4-dm diameter) are sparsely vegetated,
occasicnally supporting clunps of spruce or lodgepole pine. Other
species found on these rul±)le slopes Include sulfur buckwheat,
klnikinnick, matted saxifrage and raspberry.
Several vegetaticn inventories of other isolated mountain ranges in
Montana ard Canada may be pertinent to the Sv;eet Grass Hills. The
flora of the Cypress Kills has been described by Breitung (1954),
deVries and Bird (1968) and Newscme and Dix (1968). Forest habitat
types of the Bear's Pav; Mountains have been classified by Roberts and
Sibibemsen (1979a) and Roberts (1980). Forest habitat types of the
Little Rocky Kjountaip.s have also been classified by Rcterts and
Sitbemsen (1979b) and Rtierts (1980). Culv;ell et al. (1989) have
described vegetation types of a porticxi of the Little Rocky Mountains.
Forest habitat types of tl^ Blackfeet Indian Reservation have been
classified by Cooper (1981), and Lynch (1955) has inventoried aspen
groveland in Glacier County, Montana.
Table 2 lists habitat types and ccnrnunity types reported in pertinent
3.3.2 Habitat/CoTTTiunity Types of the Sv.eet Grass Hills
A preliminary assessrrent of habitat/oGrrmunity types of the PACEC is
possible utilizing general descriptions provided by Thcmpscn and Kuijt
(1976a), qualitative notes frcm the rare plant inventory, and
extrapolaticn of reports from adjacent, isolated mountain ranges. This
assessment of types —List be cansidered speculative given the lack of
quantitative ecological data. Photographs of representative vegetaticn
types are presented in Arpendix B.
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Prairie grassland . Several types potentially occur in the prairie
surrouTiiing the Sv/eet Grass Hills; however, the PACEC is primarily
above elevaticns characteristic of Northern Great Plains prairie
associaticns . AJ^sence of fescue species differentiates the
prairie grassland from foothills, montane and subalpine
grasslands. Ecminant species include wheatgrasses (primarily
western in association with thickspike and bluebunch),
needlegrasses (primarily needle-and-thread with seme green
needlegrass ) , blue grama and dryland sedges (threadleaf ard
Foothi 1 1 s grassland . This type is dominant in the Buttes
iirmediately above prairie grassland. Fescues doninate most
stands. Table 3 presents qualitative data en ccnpositicn of three
... vicinity stands sanpled by Ross et al. (1973) in their assessnent
of near-pristine sites in Mcntana. Each site is clearly
dcminated by rough fescue. Idaho fescue is present in each stand,
but ccnpositicn is lew. Perennial forbs contribute 4 to 10
percent ccnpositicn by v.eight. The foothills grassland most
closely fits the rough fescue/Idaho fescue habitat type of.
Mueggler and Stewart (1980). It differs in the ftLlls by a paucity
of Idaho fescue and perennial forbs, and a very high ccnpositicn
of rough fescue. Table 4 presents a ccnpariscn of ungrazed and
grazed stands at the Gold Butte Coretery (Ross et al. 1973).
Needle-and-thread, not recorded in the ungrazed stand, increased
Table 3. Percent ccnposition (by v«ight) of three near-pristire
sites in foothills grassland of the Sv.ieet Grass Hills
(Ross et al. (1973)).
VtestPtn & Thickspike
SE of Whitlash
SE of VJhitlash
Table 4. Percent ccrposition (by weight) of ungrazed and grazed
foothills prairie in the Sweet Grass Hills (Gold Butte
Canetexy) (Ross et al. (1973)).
Species Ungrazed Grazed
Rough rescue 80 5
Idaho fescue T
Western wheatgrass 5 5
Green needlegrass 5
Threadleaf sedge T 5
Prairie junegrass 15
Cusick bluegrass T
Perennial forbs 10 15
Annuals T 3
Brocm snakeweed 2
to 50 percent ccrrposition (by v^eight) vath grazing. Ptough fescue
decreased dramatically with grazing frcm 80 to 5 percent
cornposition, indicating a grazing-induced serai ccmmunity
daninated by needle-and- thread. This grazing response also
indicates a substantial deviation frcm I-lisggler and Stew-art's
(1980) rough fescue/Idaho fescue habitat type, since their paired
stands for the type do not shew needle- and- thread as a primary
Grassland similar to the rough fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass habitat
type was observed en slightly drier sites.
It is likely that additicxial investigaticns will delineate several
associations for foothills grassland, reflecting the range of site
differences within this zone.
Mcntane grassland . As in the foothills grassland zone, rough
fescue is the dominant species over most of the montane grassland.
Potential habitat types within this zore include:
Rough fescue/ Idaho fescue
Rough fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass
Idaho fescue/bluebunch v^eatgrass
These types were identified by Culwell et al. (1989) in the
montane zone of the Little Rocky Fountains. Qualitative
observations indicate ccmpositional differences frcrr, :-l:eggler and
Stewart's (1980) tj^pes. The rough fescue/bluebunch '.•.rsatgrass and
Idaho fescue/bluebunch v;heatgrass types are much rore limited
than the rough fescue/Idaho fescue type in the Sv;eet Grass Hills.
Subalplne grassland . The subalpins grassland is limited to
relatively small areas above timber line on the sumrits of Kount
Royal and West Butte. Ftough fescue is dcminant in scrre stands,
but ccrTTTiunity stature and associated species ccnpositicn indicate
dissimilarities vdth mcntane grassland. Tvro tentative types based
on Thompson and Kuijt's (1976a) description are rough
fescue/ shrubby cinquefoil and sedge rveado^i. Idaho fescue and
shruttoy cinquefoil are dcminant on the top of Mt. Royal,
suggesting a third type (possibly a serai phase of the rough
fescue type ) . Herbaceous species indicative of the subalpine zone
are listed in Table 1.
Shrubby cinquefoil grassland . Relative cover of shrubby
cinquefoil in sctre areas warrants separation fran grassland
types. Rough fescue, usually the dcminant grass, identifies the
shrubby cinquefoil/rough fescue habitat type of Mieggler and
Stewart (1980). Idaho fescue is dcminant in other stands,
implying a shrul±y cinquef oil/Idaho fescue type. Since shrubby
cinquefoil generally increases with grazing, additional
investigations ^ould be required to determine ^-rf^ether the t^pe is
climax or a grazing-irduced serai cxxmunity in 1±e Sv^eet Grass
Western sro'.-berTy/rose. Sv.'ales, upland drainages and other sna.v
acxrijmulation areas support a la,'/ shrub type dominated by v^estem
snc^±)erTY and rose. Understory species are similar to the
adjacent grasslands v/ith higher abundance of rresic-site species.
Kentucky bluegrass has generally invaded these stands.
oo^^:FEROUs forest and savannah types
Limber pine series . Limber pine is present as a codcminant or
subdcminant in the Douglas-fir series, and forms pure stands on
dry ridges east of Mt. Brc^•n. Limt)er pine stands are frequently
open, appearing as a woodland or savannah. Idato fescue is the
dcminant understory species, ijiplying the limber pine/Idaho fescue
type of Pfister et al. (1977).
Douglas-fir series . Douglas-fir occurs as dense forests on north-
facing aspects at la^/er elevations and as a savannah on drier
south- facing slopes. It is a serai ccrrponent of higher elevation
forest in the spruce or subalpine fir series. Thcrpson and Kuijt
(1976a) describe the understory as the most well-developed of
coniferous types in the Hills. Etouglas-fir types described for
the Bear's Paw r-'ountains and Little Rocky Fountains that may be
present in the Si-.-eet Grass Hills include Douglas-fir/westem
snovjberry, Douglas-fir/sexviceberry, Douglas- fir/kinikinnick,
Douglas-fir/Oregon grape, Douglas-fir/Canac3a violet, Douglas-
fir/ t-v;infla.'.'er and Douglas- fir /burx^hterxy dogvxxx3.
Lodgepple pine series . Lodgepole is extensive at mid to upper
elevations on cool, mesic slopes. It is likely serai, related to
fire history. Succession rrey be very slo,'/, hov^ver, reflecting
possible soil loss follc^^ing extensive bums. Understory is
depauperate, iraking classification difficult. Types that may be
present include lodgepole pine/twinflo/,er, lodgepole pine/mixed
shrub, lodgepole pine/huckleberry species, and lodgpole
Spruce series . Spruce is found on East Butte (Figure 2) at mid
to upper elevaticns. Potential types include spruce/tvrinflc^•.■er,
spruce/ccmnxDn juniper and perhaps spruce/matted clematis on
Subalpine fir series . Subalpine fir/carmon juniper and subalpine
fir/twinf lower are found in the Bear's Paw Mountains (Roberts,
1980), and nay be present in the S\-.eet Grass Hills. Other
possible subalpine fir types include subalpine fir/grouse
whortleberry and subalpine fir-^siTitebark pine at the highest
^■spen series . Aspen cccurs as groves surrounded by grassland, and
as voDdland in coniferous forest. Understory is dense and
diverse. Possible types include aspen/si'ieetroot in the groves and
aspen/ tv7infloi',er or aspen/westem srov-iDerry in the coniferous
Most rocky slopes are poorly vegetated and can be designated
technically as scree, talus or rock outcrop. Scattered trees
occur en seme rocky slopes and may be designated as limber
pine/ scree, spruce/scree or lodgepole pine/scree, depending on
tree species dcminance.
4.0 KANAGEKENT RBCa-MENDATIONS
Field investigaticns should be ccntinued to determine the status of
heart-leaved buttercup in the Sv-eet Grass Hills. Bureau of Lard
Nfanagement or contract botanists should periodically ccnduct botanical
investigations during spring or early summer to determine if heart-
leaved buttercup is present in the PACBC. Investigaticns should be
conducted prior to any changes in land management policies that might
affect the taxcn. If no threats are posed to suitable habitat, the
priority for additicnal investigaticns is considered lew. Because
access is limited, and the Hills are rugged, a detailed field inventory
to document the status of heart-leaved buttercup will require a
substantial field effort. The status of springbeauty and twiggy
halimolcfcos should be determined following verification of the voucher
Habitat type descriptions
Habitat types of the Sv,eet Grass Hills have not been quantitatively
described. Previous investigaticns by Thcnpscn and Kuijt (1976a) have
been qualitative. Although plant ccmmunities in the ?iills resemble
seme habitat types described for I-tntana by Pfister et al. (1977) and
Mueggler and Stewart (1980), neither study specifically addressed or
sampled types within the Hills. Sana similarities are apparent with
other prairie mountain ranges in north-central ^tntana; hois'sver, each
range ccntains unique types. A detailed quantitative evaluaticn of
habitat types of the Hills vould alla^ caorparison with otr»2r isolated
mountain ranges (e.g. Bears Paw Mountains and Little Rocky .'-'ountains ) ,
and identify unique tyx^es that may merit protection or special
Vegetatia-i mapping was beyond the scqpe of the rare plant inventory.
Mapping of general vegetaticn types identified by Thcrrpscn ard Kuijt
(1976) could be accctrplished using aerial ji^otographs and field
verificaticn. Preparation of a habitat type map would be of more value
to land management decisions.
Three state- listed noxious weeds were encountered en the PACEC during
the rare plant inventory: leafy spurge ( Euphorbia esula ), spotted
knap;';eed ( Centaurea maculosa ), and Canada thistle ( Cirsium arvense ).
Identified populaticns included:
Leafy Spurge - two locations on l-fest Butte: ere in the tottcm of
Pratt Canyon bordering ccniferous forest (10m by 10m) and ere
along a mining road en the west side of West Butte (Im x 5m);
Spotted knapweed - A sizeable population on the edge of the quarry
en the east side of East Butte - isolated plants were pulled;
Canada thistle - A small population in a drainage north of Mount
Brcxsn in a moderately to heavily grazed pasture.
Reocmmsndations for noxious weed control include:
1) Conduct additional surveys to identify populations of noxious
2) Mali tor knom populations.
3) Selectively spray the quarry area for spotted knapweed.
4) Mechanically control isolated populations of spotted knap;';eed
by hand pullirg.
5) Consider spot spraying of Canada thistle and/or modificaticns
to the grazing plan.
5.0 LITERATURE CITED
Breitung, A.J. 1954. A botanical survey of thie Cypress Hills. Can.
Cooper, S.V. 1981. Forest habitat types of the Blackfeet Indian
Reservation. In coop with Intermountain For. and Range Exp. Stn.
Forest Sci. Lab, R.D. Pfister. Prep, for Bur. Ind. Affairs, Wind River
Agency, Fort V/ashakie, t'^ycming. 87 p. + apperd.
Culv^ell, L.D., K.L. Sco;-/ and L.A. Larsen. 1989. Vegetation resources
of the Landusky and Zortman life-of-mine area. Little Rocky Mountains,
Montana. Tech I^t. for Zortman Mining, Inc. by VESTBCH, Helena,
Mcxitana. 40 p. + append.
deVries, B. and CD. Bird. 1968. Additions to the vascular flora of
the Cypress Hills, Albei-fca. Blue Jay 26:98-100.
Dom, R.D. 1977. Flora of the Black Hills. Publ. by R.D. and J.L.
Dom. 377 p.
Dom, R.D. 1984. Vascular plants of Mcntana. Mtn. Vfest Publ.,
Cheyenne, VJycming. 175 p.
Dom, R.D. 1988. Vascular plants of Wyoning. Mtn. West Publ.,
Cheyenne, V^ycming. 340 p.
Great Plains Flora Associaticn. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.
Univ. Press of Kansas, Lav/rence. 1392 p.
Hagener, L.W. 1972. Wild flowers, shrubs and trees of north central
Mcntana. Botany Dept., Northern Mcntana College. Ashtcn Printing,
Butte, I-fcntana. 79 p.
Hagener, L.V/. and A.R. Hagener. 1977. Free for all - edible and useful
wild plants of north central Montana. Hill County Printing Co., Havre,
Montana. 76 p.
Hansen, P.L., S.W. Chadde and R.D. Pfister. 1988. Riparian dominance
types of Nixitana. Misc. Publ. No 49. Montana Forest and Ccnserv. Exp.
Station, School of Forestry, Univ. of Mcxitana, Missoula. 411 p.
Harrington, H.D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Auth. by the
Colorado State Board of Agriculture and prepared with the cooperation
of Colorado State Univ. The Swallow Press, Inc., Chicago. 666 p.
Hitchcock, C.L., A. Cronquist, M. CXvnbey and J.W. Thcrpson. 1955-1969.
Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Vols. 1-5, Univ. of
Washington Press, Seattle.
Hitchcxxi<, C.L. and A. Cronquist. ' 1973. Flora of the Pacific
Northwest. Urav. of VJashington Press, Seattle, Washington. 730 p.
Kearney, T.H. end R.H. Peebles (eds). 1960. Arizona flora. Univ. of
California Press, Berkeley. 1085 p.
Kuchler, A.W. 1964. Potential natural vegetation of the ccnterminous
Untied States (rrap). An-erican Geograf^iic Society, special publication
Kuijt, J. 1982. A flora of Vfetertcn Lakes National Park. Univ. of
Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 584 p.
Lesica,, P., G. t-toore, K.M. Petersen and J.H. Rurrely. 1984. Vascular
plants of limited distrihuticn in Montana. Koitana Academy of Science
r-fcn. No. 2. 61 p.
Locman, J. and K.F. Best. 1979. Budd's flora of the Canadian praixie
provinces. Res. Branch Agriculture Canada, Publ. 1662, Ottawa. 863 p.
Lynch, D. 1955. Ecology of the aspen groveland in Glacier County,
Mcxitana. Ecological t'fcnographs 25:322-345.
Moss, E.H. 1959. Flora of Alberta. Univ. of Toronto Press. Toronto.
Mueggler, W.F. and W.L. Stewart. 1980. Grassland and shrubland
habitat types of western Kcxitana. USDA Forest Service, Cgden, Utah.
General Tech. Rept. I^)T-66. 154 pp.
Newscme, R.D. and R.L. Dix. 1968. The forests of the Cypress Hills,
Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. American Midland Naturalist 80:118-
Payne, G.F. 1973. Vegetative rangeland types in Montana. Montana
Agricultural Experirrent Station Bulletin 671. ^fcntana State Univ.,
Pfister, R.D., B.L. Kovalchick, S.F. Amo and R.C. Presby. 1977.
Forest habitat types of Montana, USDA Forest Service. General Tech.
Roberts, D.W. 1980. Forest habitat types of the Bear's Paw Mountains
and Little Rocky Mountains, Montana. Master's Thesis. University of
M:xitana, Missoula. 116 p.
Rci)erts, D.W. and J.I. Sibbemsen. 1979a. Forest habitat types of the
Bear's Paw Mountains. Unpublished report on file at the Montana Forest
and Conservation Experirrent Station, Univ. of Montana, Missoula.
Ftoberts, D.W. and J.I. SUbbemsen. 1979b. Forest and woodland habitat
types of north-central Montana. Vol. 1. The Little Rod<y I-tountains.
Unpublished report en file at the t-tontana Forest and Ccnservaticn
Experiment Station, Univ. of Montana, Missoula. Unpaged.
Ross, R.L. and H.E. Hunter. 1976. Cimax vegetation of I-fcntana based
en soils and climate. USDA Soil Conservation Service, Bozeman,
Montana. 64 p.
Ross, R.L., E.P. r-lurray and J.G. Haigh. 1973. Soil and vegetaticn
inventory of near-pristine sites in Montana. USDA Soil Ccnserv.
Serv. , Bozeman, MT. 55 p.
Scoggan, H.J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Four volumes. Nat. I-lus. Nat.
Sci. Canada, Ottawa.
Shelly, J.S. 1989. Plant species of special concern. Unpublished
mimeo. Mcxitana Natural Heritage Program, Helena.
Thcnpscn, L.S. and J. Kuijt. 1976a. Montane and subalpine plants of
the Sweet Grass Hills, Montana, and their relation to early postglacial
envircriTents of the Northern Great Plains. Can. Field-Natural. 90:432-
Thcmpscn, L.S. and J. Kuijt. 1976b. List of vascular plants collected
in the Sweetgrass Hills. Unpub. mimeo- 14 p.
Van Bruggen, T. 1976. The vascular plants of South Dakota. Iowa State
Univ. Press, Ames. 538 p.
Weber, W.A. 1976. Rocky Nfciuntain flora. Colorado Associated Univ.
Press, Boulder. 479 p.
Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins, 1987. A Utah
flora. Great Basin Naturalist t^-fenoirs No 9. Brigham Young University,
Provo, ur. 894 p.
Vascular plant species by class. S"-
Liberty County. Kontana. 1989.
:t Grass Hills, Tool- Countj
: i n o ra 1 a 1
NATIVE PERENNIAL GSA>^INOIDS
Carex hoodi i
Carex hystricina £?)•
Carex ros s i i
Carex s Icca t a
Danthonia inte media
Poa ne rvosa
Slender wheat grass
Thickspike wheatgras s
Fringed b rone
Black-and-white scaled sedge
-a ter sedge
Slende rbeaked sedge
Foxtal 1 barley
Si ender rush
Vh eeler's bluegrass
? oa rup i co 1 a
S t Ipa coma t a
S t Ipa vl ri dula
Trisetura car. escens*
Tall trise turn
INTRODUCED PERENNIAL GRASSES
Poa p ra t ens i s
Keadow f e s cue
INTRODUCED ANNUAL GRASSES
NATIVE PERENNIAL F0R3S
An tennarla microphylla
Antennarla neglect a
An tennarla racemosa
Arena rl a lateriflora*
Arnica cordl folia
Arnica f ulgens
Artemisia long! foil a*
As t e r pansus
Campanula parryi (?)*
Castilleja rhexi folia (x ciniata?)
Pasquef lowe r
Sharp tooth angelica
Tall pussy toes
Nut tall rockcress
American dwarf mistletoe
Blunt leaf sandwort
Field sagewor t
Long- leaved sagewort
Creeping white prairie aster
Western mountain aster
Tufted white prairie aster
Bent- flowered milkvetch
Spring water- s tarworc
Yel low paintbrush
Blnomi a 1
Claytonla la.iceolata var.
Clematis colucbiar. a*
Draba au re a*
Erysimum i neon spicu urn
Fragaria Virginian a
Gent i ana acarella*
He li an thus rigidus
Heuchera pa rvi folia
Hieracium uzibel latum*
Lithospernua rude rale
Loma t i um cous
Vestern water- he:=lock
Sp ringbeau ty
Katted purple clematis
rale bastard toadflax
Coniml tel la
Spotted coral -root
Few-flowered shooting star
Few -seeded draba
Smooth scouring- ru sh
Bitter f leabane
Purple daisy fleabane
Snoo th da i sy
Hairy golden aster
Lit tie leaf alumroot
Narrow- leaved hawkweed
Smal 1 f lowe r woodlands tar
Fern- leaved lomatium
Large- frui ted lomatium
A - 3
Lupin us lepidus
Cxytropis lagopus (?}*
Penstemon cor. fertus
Phlox hoodi i
Potentllla diversi folia
Potent! 11a pensylvanica
Saxifraga bronchial is
Saxifraga occidental is
Silene parry i*
Solidago spa thu lata*
Stellaria longi folia*
Town send la parry!
Dru.T.raond car^p ion
Green bluebel 1 s
Tufted evening prinrcse
3lunt-fruited sweet- rsot
Vhite point loco
Yellow penst e-Ti o n
Si Iky phacel i a
Tall cinquef oi 1
Glandular cinque foil
Prairie cinque foil
Cocaon pink wintergreen
Green- flowered wintergreen
Wa tercrowf oo t buttercup
Heart- leaved buttercup
Lance leaf stonecro?
Lacbs tongue groundsel
Rocky Mountain butte r^.' e e d
Parry " s silene
Feather solcTion's seal
Starry false soloaon's seal
Long-leaved star wort
U'oodsia oreg = na
Vic a .T. e
V c o ore
Are r ican vetch
W o c d s i a
Meadow death caraas
I.VTHODUCED rISENMAL ?CRBS
C e n mac
Lea f y spu rge
NATIVE ANNUAL/BIENNIAL FORBS
And rosace septentrional is
Halicolobos vircata Ji:^
Lepidiun dens iflo run
Spread ing-pod rockcress
Aner ican wintercress
Autuon willow herb
Daisy f leabane
CocDon monkey flower
Rycberg's evening primrose
Scouler* s plagiobothrys
Douglas knot weed
Small flower buttercup
Celery- leaved buttercup
INTRODUCED ANNUAL/S I ENNI AL TORSS
Camel ina microcarpa
D r a n e ra
Yel low sweetclover
3 er rep
Lin b o r
Tringed sage wort
Creeping Oregon- grape
Ues-ern twinf lowe r
Cornus stolon ifera*
Rosa acicularis (?)
Rosa woodsi i
A =: e a 1 n
C e a V e 1
Co r s t o
J u n com
J u n SCO
Snowbrush ce ano thus
Red osier dogwood
Rocky Kountain juniper
Shrubby cincuef oi 1
CoE=on choke cherry
Reds hoot gooseberry
Wood ■ s rose
Uhi te spirea
Thin leaf huckleberry
TREES AND TALL SHRUBS
Picea engelmannii x glauca
Pinus f lexilis
Rocky Mountain naple
3 1 ack hawthorn
Engelnann spruce x White spruce
Bl ack Cottonwood
Scientific nomenclature follows Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973) and Hitchcock
et al. (1955-1969). Conion nanes were mostly taken from these sources.
*Taxa listed by Thompson and Kuijt (1976b) for the Sweet Grass Hills, but which
were not observed during 1989 WESTECH surveys: although some of these species are
located on lands outside the PACEC, many are expected to occur within the PACEC.
Locking W toiv-ard Middle
and West Buttes
S side ^tt. Bxcwn
Tog of ^It. Royal looking SW
N side Mt. Bro.-7n
Little Joe Creek
(Ntt. Royal on left)
Locking down Little Joe
Creek to Breed Creek
NW ELM boundary
(Mt. Brown en left)
NW end Middle Butte
E side of West Butte fron
N side Middle Butte
Looking N from Middle Butte
SW end of l-fest Butte locking
N f rem Coal Mine road
Locking N to head of Fred
and George Creek
W side of West Butte
Locking SW at Kicking Horse
Saddle en W side Vtest Butte
Montane grassland vd.th
lupine and shrutiy
Scree/ talus. Forested
Cpen coiiferous forest
Foothills grassland with
Scree/ talus. Forested
scree/ talus. Rock outcrcp.
Mosaic of types
Mcntane grassland. Shrubby
'1' 't' i'^- I
; i's.jii''^:: ■'-
i iv.Si-- • -
I Q) 3