April Rangeland Resources Newsletter 2022

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Rangeland Resources Program

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Rangeland Resources Program (RRP) promotes and advocates for healthy, sustainable rangelands that supports people, wildlife, recreation, clean water, and the natural scenic beauty of Montana.

Spring Rain


Congressional Primary Debates Dates

Once again, Montana Farmers Union is hosting Primary Congressional Debates to raise questions about what our congressional delegation is going to do for Montana’s farming and ranching communities.

These debates will have live audiences and will be broadcast on television and radio statewide. Content and questions will focus on issues related to agriculture and rural communities. Tune in to watch the 2022 Congressional Primary Debates!

Date April 21st April 28th May 6th May 20th
District District 2 District 2 District 1  District 1
Location Miles City Havre Bozeman Whitefish
Moderator Jim Sargent  Jim Sargent  Jim Sargent  Jim Sargent 


406 Grazing Academy Save the Date


MTFP: Common Ground, Part 3: Rebuilding soil by building relationships

By: Emily Stifler Wolfe

In the Judith Basin, the Myllymaki family has gone all in on regenerative farming techniques aimed at building the health of the soil that sustains them. A national agency born of the Dust Bowl helped them get started, and is now seeding local initiatives to bring a more diverse swath of local knowledge into the conservation conversation.

It started when Pam Linker, then the soil conservationist at the Stanford field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), invited them to join a four-year joint effort with the Judith Basin County Conservation District. Teresa Wilhelms, the longtime administrator for the  conservation district, had secured a grant from the state Department of Natural Resources to cover the costs of seeding and research. Linker asked four area producers including the Myllymakis to plant small cover crop plots, and the nearby Montana State University Central Agriculture Research Station planted a fifth. 

Read the full Montana Free Press article, here!

Gov. Gianforte Announces Expanded Opportunities for Montana Meat Processors

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today announced Montana has finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), making Montana only the tenth state in the nation where state-inspected meat and poultry processors can ship their products across state lines.

The CIS program is limited to states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) program for products to be shipped solely within the state. FSIS will reimburse Montana for 60% of costs associated with providing interstate eligible inspection service.

Read the News Release, here.

Old Cabin

The CE Shop: Why Does Montana Have the Most Inbound Moves in the U.S.?


Montana has seen extraordinary growth over the past decade, with the bulk of the boom occurring since the onset of the pandemic. This boom ranked Montana first in overall inbound moves when compared to outbound moves, according to a report by State to State Migration

In 2021, Montana had the highest net inflow of moves per capita, with 73% of moves inbound and just 23% outbound. Billings was the top destination with a 3.9 to 1 inbound-to-outbound ratio with Missoula ranking second. 

For many locals, the city of Bozeman and cities such as Billings and Missoula are unrecognizable. The tremendous growth over the past two decades has changed their tiny mountain towns to thriving cities filled with newcomers from across the country. 

But who’s making their way to Treasure State?

Read the full article, here! 

Save the date Kicking Grass

Beef Magazine: House Republicans stand united in request to hold WOTUS rewrite while Supreme Court considers Sackett Case

Jacqui Fatka | Mar 15, 2022

As the Supreme Court looks to hear a crucial wetlands case later this year, over 200 House members called on the Biden administration to drop its current rulemaking to revise the definition of the “Waters of the United States."

A Supreme Court ruling on WOTUS later this year in the Michael Sackett, et ux., Petitioners v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. will have significant impacts on any rule the agencies put forward. “A premature rulemaking will compound existing uncertainty and confusion for stakeholders, who have already experienced years of uncertainty over WOTUS definition and scope changes,” the legislators state.

The agencies have stated their rulemaking will take into account “updates to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions.” With such a significant decision pending, refusing to push pause on their current rewrite rather than wait for the Supreme Court’s action could lead to another complete rewrite just months down the line, wasting taxpayer resources, they add.

Read the full article, here.


Montana Association of Conservation Districts

2022 Montana Envirothon

2022 Montana Envirothon!

The 2022 Montana Envirothon to be held April 25-26th in Great Falls, hosted by the Cascade County Conservation District.

Cascade Conservation District is now accepting registration for this year’s Montana Envirothon Competition. 

This event is a great competition involving Range, Soils, Aquatics, Wildlife and Forestry.  There is a written test portion along with an oral presentation to solve a current issue. This year's event current issue is "Waste to Resources."

If you are interested in registering your team, please contact Tenlee Atchison, Executive Director at tenlee@cascadecd.com or Teresa Wilhelms, Administrator at secretary@cascadecd.com for the registration form, rules and hotel information.  You can also call 406-866-0020.

International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists

United Nations Declare 2026 the International Year of Rangelands & Pastoralists

For Immediate Release

March 16, 2022

Contact: (303) 986-3309 

(Washington, D.C.) — On Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly in New York unanimously declared 2026 the International Year of Rangelands & Pastoralists (IYRP). 

The Society for Range Management (SRM) has been a part of this effort since 2015, with a simple proposal submitted to federal agency leaders. A group of partners working to designate an IYRP coalesced at the 2016 International Rangeland Congress in Saskatoon. Since then, more than 300 organizations and 68 countries have joined together to raise awareness for the world's largest ecosystem - rangelands.


Read the full release, here!

MSU Extension

MSU Extension Summer Field Days
Research Center
Wed, June 22
8:30 a.m.
Thurs, June 23
3:00 p.m.
Thurs, July 7
8:00 a.m.
Tues, July 12
9:00 a.m.
Thurs, July 14
11:30 a.m.
Tues, July 19
10:00 a.m.
Thurs, July 28       
4:30 p.m.

MSU Extension Seeking Community Feedback 

 Montana State University Extension is conducting a statewide needs assessment and is gathering feedback from community members to improve its resources, programs and services for Montanans.

All Montanans are invited to complete an online survey and participants can enter a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card.

MSU Extension Statewide Needs Survey


Montana Stockgrowers Launches M Bar Leadership Academy and Seeks Program Candidates

HELENA, Mont. (March 29, 2022) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) announced Tuesday the launch of the organization’s new premier leadership program⁠—the Montana Stockgrowers M Bar Academy. The 18-month leadership program, designed to grow and develop leadership skills for individuals active in Montana’s ranching industry, will begin in June 2022. Individuals who work in the ranching industry are encouraged to apply. Candidates should submit their information by May 1, 2022.

For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420 or email Raylee Honeycutt at raylee@mtbeef.org Applications are available at mtbeef.org/leadership-series. All candidate applications should be submitted online or postmarked by May 1, 2022.

Public Lands Council

PLC Seeks Information on Voluntary Grazing Adjustments

The Public Lands Council has been working with the BLM and Forest Service to ensure they’re directing their staff to use as much flexibility as possible during the upcoming grazing season. 

Have you made voluntary changes to your grazing operations in order to ensure your livestock AND the land remain healthy during severe drought conditions? Tell the PLC about it by taking the two question survey.  . Personal identities are not collected as part of the survey unless you want to be contacted as an example of grazing changes. 

PLC Grazing Survey


Montana Department of Livestock

The Department of Livestock Asks Montanans to be Aware of Avian Influenza

Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, MT Dept. of Livestock, (406) 444-5214, tszymanski@mt.gov

Dr. Eric Liska, Brucellosis Program Veterinarian, (406) 444-3374

Helena, Mont. – The Department of Livestock (DOL) is asking Montanans to be aware that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been diagnosed in domestic poultry and wild birds in 18 states to date in 2022. HPAI spreads rapidly and is associated with severe disease and high death loss.

“Because of the high mortality rate and highly contagious nature of the virus, we are asking Montana’s poultry producers to take action to keep their flocks healthy,” said Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, Assistant State Veterinarian. “Many biosecurity precautions, while inconvenient, can be done with no additional expense to reduce the risk of AI.”


Read the News Release, here.

Department of Agriculture

Gov. Gianforte Announces 50-Percent Increase in Meat Processed in Montana

Governor Greg Gianforte today announced a 50-percent increase in meat processed in Montana to date this fiscal year in facilities inspected by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL).

According to data collected by DOL Meat and Poultry Inspectors at state-inspected and custom exempt processing establishments, a fiscal year-to-date comparison shows 34,942 more animals have been processed in state Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) than state Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021).

To this point in state FY2022, state-inspected processing facilities have processed 68,906 animals, up from 33,964 animals in state FY2021.


Read the full article, here. 

MT Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council

Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council Recruits for Open Positions


The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is currently recruiting for open positions on its Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council (NWMAC).

The following council terms expire on June 30, 2022:

  • Recreationist / Wildlife Group
  • Consumer Group
  • Montana Weed Control Association
  • Eastern County Weed District Representative
  • At-Large Member

Appointed by the MDA Director, the council provides guidance related to noxious weed programs and the Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Program assisting counties, local and tribal communities, researchers, and educators throughout the state. Responsibilities include reviewing Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant applications and attending hearings which take place over the course of several days in March each year. The NWMAC recommends and funding awards to the MDA Director for approval. Additional one- day council meetings are also held in January and July each year.

Those interested in serving on the Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council are encouraged to submit a letter of interest and application to MDA by May 1, 2022. Visit the NWMAC website to learn more and download application forms. Nominations for council member can be submitted to: Montana Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2002014, Helena, MT 59620-0201, or jchaffee@mt.gov.

USDA farmers.gov

New Online Tool Allows Farmer, Ranchers to Easily Report Anticompetitive Practices

Farmers, ranchers, and other producers and growers now have a one-stop shop to help ensure they are treated fairly.  The new farmerfairness.gov portal developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) allows you to report potential violations of livestock and poultry antitrust laws, including the Packers and Stockyards Act. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently expressed concern that producers across the country have for too long faced a marketplace that benefits a few large companies over the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise our food.  

As part of these efforts, this portal makes it easy for farmers and ranchers to register a complaint or tip and provide details that would aid an investigation.

Read more about the reporting process, here!


BLM Finalizes Bison Grazing Proposal EA, Fonsi, and Issues Proposed Grazing Decision

(MALTA, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a proposed decision on a bison grazing proposal involving seven allotments in Phillips County, Montana, held by American Prairie (AP). In conjunction with the proposed decision, the BLM released an associated Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

The Telegraph Creek, Box Elder, Flat Creek, White Rock, French Coulee, Garey Coulee and East Dry Fork allotments – a total of approximately 63,500 acres of BLM-administered lands – currently provide 7,969 animal unit months (AUMs) of permitted use.

The proposed decision would allow bison grazing on six of the seven BLM allotments in AP’s proposal. One common allotment grazed with another livestock operator would remain approved for cattle-only grazing. Seasonal grazing would be permitted on four of the allotments. Year-round grazing would be permitted on three allotments; two of which had been previously authorized for year-round bison grazing. There would be no change in AUMs on any of the allotments. The majority of internal fencing on BLM-administered lands would remain intact.

The proposed grazing decision, which describes the terms and conditions for each of the seven allotments, is based on existing laws, policies and management plans, and supported by the analysis brought forward in the EA/FONSI.

“Ultimately, the overall goals of any grazing decision are to ensure the health of BLM-administered public lands and implement the law,” said Acting Montana/Dakotas State Director Theresa Hanley. “This proposed grazing decision will help us continue to achieve those goals, providing for multiple-purpose use and enjoyment, now and in the future.”

The proposed grazing decision, and documents associated with the EA and FONSI are available on the BLM’s ePlanning website.

Read the full Press Release, here.

USDA Header-Blue

Hazy Range

USDA Grants Available to Spur Innovation Technologies in MT

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for grants to fund Montana projects that could stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) generally fund pilot projects, field demonstrations and on-farm conservation research.

Tom Watson, NRCS state conservationist for Montana, said $225,000 is available for the state-component CIG this year. He said applicants can request up to $75,000 for projects lasting one to three years.

Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 2, 2022.

Information about this CIG opportunity and the application process is available online at grants.gov. Search for Montana CIG. General CIG information can be found at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov.

Read the full news release, here!

USDA Report Shows a Decade of Conservation Trends

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2022 — A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report shows use of no-till, crop rotations, more efficient irrigation methods and advanced technologies have climbed in recent years.

The report from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) demonstrates progress made through voluntary conservation over a 10-year period. Findings from the report will inform future conservation strategies, including USDA’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

A few key findings include:

  • Farmers increasingly adopted advanced technology, including enhanced-efficiency fertilizers and variable rate fertilization to improve efficiency, assist agricultural economies and benefit the environment.
  • More efficient conservation tillage systems, particularly no-till, became the dominant form of tillage, improving soil health and reducing fuel use.

Read all of the key findings, here!


Benefits of Early Calving Are Increasing Due To Late Winter Warming

Scientists at the ARS Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, MT completed a long-term study recently published in Rangeland Ecology & Management. The researchers analyzed more than eighty years of data from over 39,000 calves to obtain an accurate reading of the effect of calving date on calf weight gain.

The research team observed that calves born early March [late winter] averaged about 13% heavier at 180 days of age than those born early May [spring]. This is because calves born in March are older and larger and can therefore better utilize the high-quality forage that is available in summer, whereas May calves reach 180 days of age in early November, long after forage quality has typically declined. 

Read the full report, here!

USDA-ARS WSSA Webinar Series

USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Weed Science Society of America Collaborate to Present Weed Science Webinar Series

USDA - ARS and the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) are co-hosting 10 webinars on weed science and research. Beginning April 5, presentations will be given by ARS weed science research experts.

The webinars will occur every Tuesday from 2-3p.m. Eastern Time (ET) and include an interactive Q&A session.

April 5 - ARS Weed Science: Past, Present, and Future

April 12 - Integrated Weed Management in Cropping Systems

April 19 - Non-Crop Systems: Advancements in Weed Biocontrol Tools

April 26 - New Technology for Weed Identification and Control

May 3 - Role of Plant Physiology in Weed-Crop Competition

May 10 - Molecular Basis for Controlling Invasive Plant

May 17 - Addressing Herbicide Resistance with Alternative Chemistries

May 24 - Spread and Distribution of Invasive Plants

May 31 - Climate Change Effects on Weeds and Management

June 7 - Restoration for Managing Invasive Plants

Register For Webinars Today

Bureau of Reclamation

FY22 Drought Contingency Planning Grants Funding Opportunity

The Bureau of Reclamation has published a funding opportunity for the WaterSMART Drought Response Program’s Drought Contingency Planning Grants.  This funding opportunity supports the development and update of drought contingency plans.  Through this funding opportunity, Reclamation provides financial assistance for planning that, when implemented, will increase water reliability and improve water management through the use of expanded technologies and improved modeling capabilities.  Applicants may request up to $200,000 for plans to be completed within two years.  Generally, a 50 percent minimum recipient cost-share is required.

Applications must be submitted no later than 4:00 p.m., on April 14, 2022.

View Grant Notice, here.


Art of the Range

The Art of the Range: Should Ranching Be Profitable?


Ranching for Profit is an organization started by Stan Parsons, recently run by Dave Pratt, that has been helping ranchers work on the business instead of in the business for decades. Dallas Mount, former Univ. of Wyoming Extension economist and now co-owner of Ranch Management Consultants, talks with Tip about ranch finance competencies, common weaknesses in ranch financial planning, and fundamental steps livestock producers can take to understand costs and put assets to work for them. This episode introduces a new grant through Western Extension for Risk Management Education that will provide outreach on ranch finance and use of livestock insurance products. Tune in for a teaser on fixed assets and working capital

Listen here!


MSU Extension:

Updated MontGuides

University of Montana:

Rangeland Analysis Platform

Reversing Tree Encroachment Increases Usable Space for Sage-Grouse during the Breeding Season

USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Rangeland Resources & Systems Research, Fort Collins, CO:

Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT:

Pest Management Research, Sidney, MT:

US Forest Service Research & Development: 

Research topic: Fire

Research topic: Water, Air, & Soil


Range Improvement Loan Program

Montana Hay & Pasture Hotline

USDA Water and Climate Outlook-Montana

USDA Montana Ag Stats

Grazing Your Way to Healthy Pastures

Montana Wildflower App

Montana Grass ID App

Montana Noxious Weed Information

Grassfed Exchange



NRCS Events. Calendar of conservation workshops and training

April 2022:

May 2022:


Stacey Barta, State Coordinator for Rangelands

220 W. Lamme, Suite 1A

Bozeman, MT 59715

(406) 594-8481


Emily Moran, Administrative Assistant for Rangelands

PO Box 201601

Helena, MT 59601

(406) 444-2613


Rangeland Resources Committee:

Diane Ahlgren, Chair

John Hollenback, Vice Chair

Sigurd Jensen

Jim Anderson

Leah Lewis

Ron Devlin