The United States has reserved at least 150 areas as national forests as a way of conserving and protecting the environment. The state of Montana is home to 10 of these forests.
This forest has land coverage of about 7,363 square kilometers in south-central Montana. The forest provides a natural habitat for more than 295 species of wildlife.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest is the largest forest in the state of Montana with an approximate area of 13,599 square kilometers. The most common species of trees found in the forest include the Ponderosa pine, juniper, spruce, and fir. Wildlife species include the grizzly bear, bald eagle, wolf, Canadian lynx and bull trout.
This national forest occupies the central part of Montana with an area of about 3,985 square kilometers. The Big Belt Mountains dominate the eastern section of the forest, while the Elkhorn Mountains dominates the southern part of the state. Vegetation in the Helena forest is a mixture of sagebrush, grass, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, larch, and spruce. Wildlife species include grizzly bears, bobcats, Canadian lynx, wolves and mountain lions.
7. Lewis and Clark
The forest occupies the western central region of Montana with a land area of about 7,495 square kilometers. The federal government defined and reserved this forest in 1897. The Lewis and Clark forest provides the natural habitat for wild animals like elk, mountain goats, and black bears. Bird species include bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, and grouse. There are several streams and lakes in the western section of the forest.
Lolo Forest covers an area of about 7,950 square kilometers. Four forests were combined to form Lolo Forest in 1906 for easy administration of those forests. Some of the tree species in Lolo forest are western red cedar, white-bark pine, fir, and spruce. Animal species include black bears, wolves, elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer and mountain goats. The forest is home to more than 95 lakes and rivers.
The Flathead Forest covers approximately 9,730 square kilometers. The forest primarily occupies the Rocky Mountains with more than 240 wildlife species and at least 20 fish species inhabiting the forest. These animals include wolverines, bald eagles, grizzly bears, coyotes and bighorn sheep.
4. Bitterroot (Idaho)
The Bitterroot Forest covers 6,420 square kilometers. The forest was established in 1898 in the Sapphire and Bitterroot Mountains adjacent to River Salmon. The forest is made up of both forested areas and grasslands. Tree species include the Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and larch. This forest also provides a natural habitat for mule deer, squirrels, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, rabbits, and moose.
3. Kootenai (Idaho)
This forest occupies the northwestern region of Montana. The land coverage of the forest is approximately 8,995 square kilometers. The area experiences a Pacific maritime climate.
2. Custer (South Dakota)
Custer Forest covers around 4,406 square kilometers. Ponderosa pine and grasslands dominate the eastern section of the forest which provides cattle with grazing fields.
1. Idaho Panhandle
The Idaho Panhandle Forest is mostly found in Idaho, but some portions of the forest extend to the state of Montana. The designed areas of wilderness within the forest are the Cabinet Mountains and Salmo-Priest wilderness. Animal species found in the forest include grizzly bears, mule deer, bobcats, wolverines, and raccoons. California quail, turkey, and ravens are some of the species of birds in the forest.