Montour WMA

Before You Go

Montour WMA is a complex of cottonwood-willow river bottoms, willow, wetlands, ponds, and fields adjacent to the Payette River and upstream from Black Canyon Dam. It was established for upland and waterfowl production and is cooperatively managed with the Bureau of Reclamation.

The WMA has a developed campground on site with a no-shooting safety zone around the camping area. Sections of the WMA are closed from February 1 to July 31 to protect nesting birds.

Visiting Hours:

Open year-round, seven days a week.

Contact:

Southwest Regional Office - Nampa

15950 N. Gate Blvd
Nampa, ID 83687
United States
Phone: 
(208) 465-8465

WMA facts

Primary Purpose: Waterfowl and upland bird production

Habitat: Cottonwood-willow river bottoms, wetlands

  • 1,350 acres
  • Gem County
  • Established in 1983

things to know

Sections of the WMA are closed from February 1 to July 31 to protect nesting birds.

Several roads access the WMA; vehicles are required to stay on established roadways.

Ponds on the WMA are opened on August 1 for fishing.

The WMA has a developed campground, which is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Overview

The Montour WMA is located on the floodplain of the Payette River. Its lowlands are a complex of cottonwood-willow river bottoms, wetlands and ponds, and agricultural fields adjacent to the Payette River. A large portion of this area lies within the 100-year floodplain and subject to flooding during years of high spring runoff.

The WMA is surrounded by intensive agriculture and ranching. In 1924, the Black Canyon Dam was built to provide irrigation and electricity to the surrounding area.

It was the construction of the dam that led to the creation of the Montour WMA.

After Black Canyon Dam was completed, sediment filled the main streambed at the upper end of the reservoir. Over a span of years, the sediment deposit contributed to flooding in Montour Valley and raised the ground water level. Lawsuits and ongoing flooding led the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to purchase 1,100 acres within the 100-year flood plain and create the Montour Flood Project. This property evolved into the Montour WMA, which is cooperatively managed by BOR and Idaho Fish and Game for fish and wildlife purposes.

Today, the WMA has some of the best quality riparian habitat found above the Black Canyon Dam on the Payette River. Much of the riparian area along the Payette River has been altered by channelizing, dike construction, bank repair, tree removal, and agricultural and grazing impacts. In contrast, the narrow band of vegetation on the WMA provides a wide variety of trees, shrubs, forbes, grasses, and wetlands, that together create excellent wildlife habitat.

The primary purpose of the WMA is to create habitat for waterfowl and upland bird production. Five ponds and additional wetland areas have been built to provide food, cover, nesting and resting habitat for waterfowl. The low wetland areas also provide escape and important winter thermal cover for quail, gray partridge, and ring-necked pheasants. As a result, waterfowl and pheasant hunting are two of the main attractions to the Montour WMA.

A wide variety of resident and migrating species use the WMA.

  • For a small herd of mule deer, the WMA is an important wintering area.
  • Shorebirds use the WMA on their migrations.
  • Waterbirds, such as snowy egrets and Virginia rail use it during breeding season.
  • Sandhill cranes are common spring migrants.
  • Bald eagles are common winter residents and have one nest in the area.
  • A nesting colony of great blue herons can be found in the cottonwood trees near the southern WMA boundary.
  • Both great horned and western screech owls nest on the WMA.
  • Many neotropical birds use the diverse habitats within the WMA for at least some portion of their life cycle.

In the face of expanding human influences in the Montour Valley, the WMA will maintain quality riparian areas into the future.

News

Activities

The Payette WMA’s proximity to a large population center in southwest Idaho makes it a draw for pheasant, waterfowl, and some deer hunters.

Montour WMA is one of the few places where hunters can pursue ring-necked pheasants in the area. To meet the demand for pheasant hunting, game farm birds are released on the WMA.

Waterfowl hunting is popular on the WMA. Local bird production provides hunting opportunity during the first weeks of waterfowl season, before the bulk of migrating waterfowl appear in the Payette River valley

Deer and elk hunting are allowed on the WMA, but are limited due to its small acreage. The seasons have a short-range weapons restriction, which allows the use of shotguns, archery and muzzleloaders.

Turkey hunting is allowed in the spring, though opportunities are limited due to seasonal nesting closures on the WMA to protect nesting waterfowl and game birds.  Controlled turkey hunts are available in the fall.

Be sure to check Idaho’s Seasons and Rules for up-to-date hunting information.

The Payette River flows along the northern and western boundary of the WMA, which provides access to the river for fishing and boating. The Payette River within the WMA has rainbow trout, whitefish, smallmouth bass, and catfish.

Ponds on the WMA open on August 1 to fishing. The ponds support a variety of game fish including black crappie, bluegill, catfish, smallmouth, and largemouth bass.

Furbearer trapping is allowed on the WMA. Trappers must register with the Southwest Regional Office or WMA staff before setting out traps on the WMA.

Wildlife viewing has become very important on the WMA, in part because of its close proximity to several metropolitan areas. Birding, in particular, is a popular activity. Montour WMA is a recognized spot on the Idaho Birding Trail.

A wide array of waterfowl can be found on the WMA. They include Canada goose, mallard, wood duck, gadwall, northern pintail, American widgeon, green-winged and cinnamon teal, common goldeneye, lesser scaupe and redhead ducks.

Other waterbirds using the area during the breeding season include Virginia rail, American coot, snowy egret, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, American bittern, and American white pelican.

Common shorebirds may use the area during migration. These include long-billed curlew, spotted sandpiper, semipalmated plover, greater and lesser yellowlegs, long-billed dowitcher, western sandpiper, and Wilson’s snipe.

Other birding highlights:

  • Sandhill cranes are common spring migrants.
  • Bald eagles are common winter residents.
  • A nesting colony of great blue herons can be found in the cottonwood trees near the southern WMA boundary.
  • Both great horned and western screech owls nest on the WMA.
  • Many neotropical birds use the diverse habitats within the WMA for at least some portion of their life cycle.

Hiking is allowed on the WMA.

Horseback riding is allowed on the WMA, but no facilities are provided other than parking.

Montour WMA has an established campground with a no-shooting safety zone around the camping area. The campground is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Information about camping can be found on the BOR website.