Big Hole National Battlefield

About the Park

Big Hole National Battlefield

Big Hole National Battlefield is located ten miles west of Wisdom, Montana. On August 9, 1877 gun shots shattered a chilly dawn on a sleeping camp of Nez Perce.  By the time the smoke cleared on August 10, almost 90 Nez Perce were dead along with 31 soldiers and volunteers. Big Hole National Battlefield was created to honor all who were there. Elevations in the battlefield range from 6276 ft - 7000 ft (1913 m to 2134 m). The battlefield is situated within a matrix of US Forest Service land and private ranches. The North Fork of the Big Hole River bisects the site, and it is flanked by Battle Mountain in the northwest and Ruby Bench along the southeast portion of the battlefield. These features create a diverse landscape. Vegetation consists of sagebrush uplands, grass and willow riparian areas, and coniferous forest.

Climate change presents significant risks and challenges to the National Park Service and specifically to Big Hole National Battlefield. Scientists cannot predict with certainty the general severity of climate change nor its impacts. Average global temperatures on the Earth’s surface have increased about 1.1°F since the late 19th century, and the 10 warmest years of the 20th century all occurred in the last 15 years.

At Big Hole National Battlefield, increasing temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns may alter park ecosystems, changing vegetation communities, habitats available for species, and the experience of park visitors. If warming does continue, the species that are present in the park either will move up slope with temperature, or become extinct. Either way climate change will alter the way the park is today. This area is very fragile and would be easily changed with just a few degrees of warming.

This Action Plan identifies steps that Big Hole National Battlefield can undertake to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate its impact on climate change. The plan presents the park’s emission reduction goals, and associated reduction actions to achieve the park’s goals. While the plan provides a framework needed to meet the park’s emission reduction goals, it is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to implement each of the proposed measures. The park’s Environmental Management System will describe priorities and details to implement these actions.

Emissions Profile

Big Hole National Battlefield heats with propane exclusively. The park is in the process of installing a new cold roof system, which will be much more energy efficient. At this time, the park purchases green energy (not all of the park’s needs, but as much as its co-op will allow). Big Hole National Battlefield has plans to put up solar panels to generate power and tie into the grid and is in the process of cutting down on waste in the Visitor Center as well in employee housing by recycling more products.

In 2008, GHG emissions within Big Hole National Battlefield totaled 126 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park. For perspective, a typical single family home in the U.S. produces approximately 12 MTCO2 per year (U.S. EPA, Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculators – Calculations and References, Retrieved , Website: Thus, the combined emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities within the park are roughly equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of 11 households each year. The largest emission sector for Big Hole National Battlefield is energy, totaling 81 MTCO2E.

The graph below, taken from our Climate Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2008 broken down into sectors, including visitor travel.

Graph of GHG Emissions


Big Hole National Battlefield intends to:

  • Reduce GHG emissions from the park to 30% below 2008 levels by the year 2016 by implementing emission mitigations actions identified by the park.
  • Reduce park operations’ energy use emissions to 40 percent below 2008 levels by 2016.
  • Reduce park operations’ transportation emissions to 15 percent below 2008 levels by 2016.
  • Reduce park operations’ waste emissions to 15 percent below 2008 levels by 2016 through waste diversion and reduction.

To read more about what we are doing at Big Hole National Battlefield about climate change, check out our Action Plan