June 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.

Terry Haughian Ranch


State of Montana Governor's Proclamation

June is Rangeland Appreciation Month!

Rangeland Resources Committee member, Jim Anderson of Havre, worked with the Governor's office to create the Governor's Proclamation that June 2022 is Rangeland Appreciation Month in Montana to recognize rangeland conservationists and to encourage all Montanans to be stewards of our treasured rangelands. 

Thank you to all rangeland conservationists and an extra special thank you to Jim Anderson for all the hard work!

Read the official proclamation, here!

Joe Zecher Fence Poles

Working Land Internship Report

By: Joe Zecher

Howdy! I am finishing up my second week at the Compton Ranch in Boulder, Montana and have learned a ton so far! We’ve had everything from two inches of snow, to 80 degrees and sunny, and I have learned and done a lot!

In my time here, I have learned a lot about the economics of ranching, including the financial hardships ranchers across The West are facing with inflation, drought, low cattle prices and land taxes. It is very interesting and eye-opening to see all the behind-the-scenes work and learn about the finances of ranching.

I’ve also learned quite a bit about the importance and management of water. Cattle require lots of water, and the arid west doesn’t always provide, so water and irrigation rights are very important for ranchers. The Compton’s water rights date back to the 1890s and they have access to springs, creeks and the Boulder River, but share their water with neighboring ranchers and wildlife. Leased land from public agencies for grazing is also a large part of the Compton’s operation and the different regulations can be difficult to navigate when deciding where and when to move cattle.

Working with the Compton family, I have improved many of my technical skills. My fencing got quicker, I learned more about irrigation pivots, learned to heel calves during the branding, helped move cows from pasture to pasture and got better at driving a standard transmission truck.

On Sunday I’ll begin my drive to Willard, Montana where I’ll be working with the Rost family for two weeks. I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer holds!

Montana Water Supply Outlook Report Spring 2022

The Montana Department of  Natural Resources and Conservation has prepared the Montana Water Supply Outlook Report on behalf of the Governor's Drought & Water Supply Advisory Committee.  

Click the photo above to read the report!

Beef Magazine: Drought Raises Questions About When, How to Cull Cattle Herds

According to livestock marketing OSU Extension specialist Derrell Peel, the ultimate factor in deciding to cull an animal is its physical condition in relation to its productivity. When a cow becomes too old or lame to continue as a breeding animal, it must be culled. However, there are economic reasons why a producer may cull a younger or more productive animal.

If the cow herd has already been culled for old and unproductive cows, then one might give serious consideration to marketing heifers retained as replacements, Lalman said.

Read the full article, here.

The Central Grasslands Roadmap

Did you know a Central Grasslands Roadmap has been created as a collaborative effort to increase conservation on North America's Central Grasslands?

The Central Grasslands span across more than 600 million acres of North America and are home to both diverse ecosystems and equally diverse human communities. As it stands, disparate efforts are not adding up, and measures of human community health and healthy grassland ecosystems across the biome continue to decline.

As a collective of stakeholders from across the Central Grasslands, eight diverse sectors and three countries have come together to identify common principles and shared priorities to address these challenges. By increasing support for coordinated conservation and fostering mutual respect for the diverse people living and working across the Central Grasslands, we can ensure resilient and connected grasslands and thriving human communities, now and for generations to come.

Read the Roadmap, here!


Good Grazing Makes Cent$

Managing Grass Like a Solar Farm

On good years with plenty of moisture and grass galore, sometimes considering the resiliency of the range may not be paramount.  But it only takes one dry season to remind us of the importance of resilient plants and plenty of reserves.  That’s why “managing your grass like a solar farm” can be an important tool to consider as we enter growing season. 

Picture a solar farm operating at maximum capacity, capturing the most energy possible - it has full, functioning panels facing the sun.  On the range, it’s no different.  Plants are capturing and storing maximum energy when allowed to reach their full growing potential and bear the maximum amount of leaves (or panels) for photosynthesis.  The more energy captured during growing season, the more reserves those plants can store for resiliency the following year and the longer they will maintain grazing value.

Read the full article, here!

Good Grazing Makes Cent$ Drought Webinar

MSU Extension

MSU MontGuide

MSU Extension publishes variety of new MontGuide factsheets to aid Montanans

Montana State University Extension recently published six new MontGuides on a variety of topics to provide unbiased information for Montana citizens.

The recently published MontGuides include the following:

New and existing MontGuides are located online at store.msuextension.org, where they can be downloaded for free, or printed copies can be ordered for a small shipping fee. For more information, call the MSU Extension Distribution Center at 406-994-3273 or email orderpubs@montana.edu.

Montana Stock Growers Association

Spring Rain

Changing the Narrative on Rural Mental Health

We got a call this week from a friend and listener who said, “Maybe you ought to be careful about getting into this mental health stuff. My Mom, used to say, ‘buck up, buttercup.’”

Fair enough. There are days when we do have to buck up and go feed the cows in a foot of snow. And it just takes a little push to get us headed out the door. Sometimes we do have to “buck up” and do the hard stuff.

For those of us born with the stuff of homesteaders and pioneers, we are born with grit in our blood. Imagine the grit it took to trail those cattle thousands of miles north on horseback. Imagine the grit it took to head west in a railcar through untamed country. You don’t have to imagine the grit it took to stay in this country, you can feel it.

So, are we tough enough to get into an actual conversation with our neighbors rather than just sending a text message? Tough enough to get beyond the weather to find out how they are really doing? Tough enough to share how WE are really doing?

I think we are. I think we can change the story for our kids: We are not too tough to need mental health. But, we are tough enough to talk about it.

Read the full Article, here!

Montana Association of Grazing Districts

Montana Association of State Grazing Districts Elects New Leadership

HELENA, Mont. (May 17, 2022) – The Montana Association of State Grazing Districts (MASGD) conducted its Annual Meeting on May 16 in Lewistown, Montana.

Along with the association’s annual business meeting, a new president and vice president were elected to lead the organization. Kevin Elias, of Chinook, was elected by the membership to the role of president. Deanna Robbins, of Roy, was elected to vice president. Both individuals will serve in their respective roles for two years. Llane Carroll, of Ekalaka, completed his term as vice president and was re-elected to serve as a director for the south district. Kyle Kluck, of Malta, was elected as a north district director. Skip Ahlgren who has led MASGD for the last two years will assume the past president role on the board.

Read the full release, here!

Rancher Stewardship Alliance

Rural Resilience Webinar, Session 4 Recap

Allen Williams and Alejandro Carrillo hosted the fourth session of the Rural Resilience Webinar: Reviving and Restoring Landscapes with Livestock.

Alejandro will be live and in-person at the 2022 Montana Range Tour in Great Falls, Aug. 30-31, 2022. 

Dr. Allen Williams opened this session by covering the 6-3-4 key concepts to know to build real resilience on our land and businesses. That includes the 6 soil health principles; the 3 rules of adaptive stewardship; the 4 ecosystem processes.  Alejandro Carrillo will follow with his real-life ranching example of these principles in action on his ranch in the Chihuahuan desert. How did he apply and adapt to revive and restore his land with livestock?

Click the photo below to watch the webinar!

Rural Resilience Webinar Series


State of Montana Newsroom

Montanans Share Concerns About Rising Grizzly Bear Conflict With Governor Gianforte

FAIRFIELD, Mont. – As the State of Montana awaits a response to its petition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), Governor Greg Gianforte today heard concerns from residents of Teton County about rising conflicts with grizzly bears as the species expands its territory to prairie areas east of the Rocky Mountain Front.

Speaking to the impact of the bear’s expansion on the ranching community, Montana Stockgrowers Associations' past Executive Vice President Jay Bodner said, “Montana ranchers are seeing an upward trend of livestock losses due to depredation. As grizzly bears continue to exceed recovery criterion and increase in population, Montana ranchers need access to management options and resources to keep their herds safe from depredation." 

Read the full Press Release, here!

Montana State Legislature Button

What are the chances?

By: Joe Kolman

As spring gives way to fire season, legislators are regularly briefed on fire danger, firefighting readiness, and the cost of putting out the flames. The Environmental Quality Council discusses fire factors at a meeting this week. But all Montanans have access to fire danger information, including two reports that look at community and individual risks of fire.

Wildfire Risk to Communities, created by the Forest Service, is a website with interactive maps, charts, and resources to examine wildfire risk. It is searchable by state, county, or town.

A recently released report by a nonprofit organization drills down even further. The 5th National Risk Assessment: Fueling the Flames, by the First Street Foundation uses recent wildfires and changing environmental conditions. It allows a user to look at the risk to a specific property. For example, a home near the state Capitol shows an increasing risk of fire over the next 30 years. This link provides individual property searches.

The report also shows statewide information for Montana and other states. And while many fires in Western Montana garner the most attention, the report shows Yellowstone County as having the most properties at risk today. And in 30 years, it predicts that the percentage change in properties at risk is greatest in Fallon and Wibaux counties.

Read the full article, here!

Montana DEQ

DEQ to Host Public Meeting on a Water Monitoring Project on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hosting a public meeting on a water quality monitoring project for the Clarks Fork Yellowstone Watershed on June 9th at 6:30pm via zoom or at the Joliet Community Center. The three-year project will build upon existing monitoring data and assess whether Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) are necessary to protect water quality. A TMDL defines the amount of a certain pollutant a waterbody can hold before it impacts water quality and beneficial uses such as agriculture, recreation and aquatic life. If DEQ determines TMDLs are needed, the agency will work with local stakeholders to outline a plan to reduce pollutants.

Zoom and location information can be found, here!

Department of Agriculture

Dept. of Agriculture Reminds Producers to Sign Up to be Counted in Ag Census

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding agricultural producers to sign up for the 2022 Census of Agriculture before June 30th. Taken only once every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census provides a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.

The Census of Agriculture covers land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and more. Census data includes all operations of all sizes – big and small, rural and urban – raising or selling $1,000 or more of agricultural products.

Read the full article, here. 

USDA Designates 29 Montana Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

On Thursday, May 5, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) designated 29 Montana counties as primary disaster areas due to drought.

These counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional:

Beaverhead Big Horn Blaine Broadwater Carbon
Cascade Choteau Daniels Fergus Garfield
Golden Valley Jefferson Lewis and Clark Liberty McCone
Madison Musselshell Phillips Pondera Powder River
Richland Roosevelt Rosebud Sheridan Stillwater
Teton Toole Valley    

Application deadline for assistance is January 3, 2023.

Click here to view the full designation and learn more.

USDA Header-Blue

Biden-Harris Administration Drought Resilience Interagency Working Group Releases Summary Report, Marks One Year Since Interagency Coordination

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2022 – The Biden-Harris Administration today released the Drought Resilience Interagency Working Group’s (IWG) Summary Report outlining the actions taken to date to improve drought-stricken communities' longer-term resilience to drought through financial and technical assistance. Last month marked one year since the establishment of the Drought Resilience IWG as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to confronting climate change. Download the Summary Report.

The Drought Resilience IWG agencies are working cooperatively in a whole-of-government manner, to address drought issues through existing programs and resources. There are many historic opportunities provided by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to provide critical funding to address water challenges, which includes drought. The Drought Resilience IWG will facilitate interagency coordination to effectivity deploy $13 billion in water-related investments, including $12.4 billion at DOI (including investments outlined here) and $918 million at USDA.

Read the full News Release, here!

Deadline for USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Second Funding Pool is June 10

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds potential partners that the deadline to apply for the second round of funding through the new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is Friday, June 10, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. This funding pool includes proposals from $250,000 to $4,999,999 that emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions.

Information on how to applyfrequently asked questions, and additional information, including resources to support your application are available on the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities webpage on usda.gov.

USDA Ag Header

USDA Announces Framework for Shoring Up the Food Supply Chain and Transforming the Food System to Be Fairer, More Competitive, More Resilient

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2022 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing details of a framework to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers. Today’s announcement builds on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. This announcement also provides additional details on the June 2021 announcement to strengthen critical supply chains and address longstanding structural challenges that were revealed and intensified by the pandemic. 

The goals of USDA’s Food System Transformation framework include:

  • Building a more resilient food supply chain that provides more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution.
  • Creating a fairer food system that combats market dominance and helps producers and consumers gain more power in the marketplace by creating new, more and better local market options.
  • Making nutritious food more accessible and affordable for consumers.
  • Emphasizing equity.

Read the full Press Release, here!

USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service

APHIS Seeking Stakeholder Insight About Strategic Plan Framework

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is in the process of developing a new strategic plan to guide the agency’s work over the next 5 years. A working group, consisting of representatives throughout the agency, and APHIS leadership have worked together to shape the draft strategic plan. APHIS is seeking insights from its stakeholders on the framework of the draft plan. Your insights will assist the agency in finalizing the plan.

Specifically, APHIS is seeking insight on the following questions:

  • Are your interests represented in the plan?
  • Are there opportunities for APHIS to partner with others to achieve the goals and objectives?
  • Are there other trends for which the agency should be preparing?
  • Are there additional items APHIS should consider for the plan?

Starting on June 2, 2022, stakeholders will have 30 days to share their thoughts on the framework. Comments must be received by July 1, 2022, 11:59pm (EST).


To review the strategic plan framework and provide your insights, please visit: https://www.regulations.gov/docket/APHIS-2022-0035


Art of the Range

AoR 84: Perspectives: Memoirs of Habitat and Homesteading in Eastern Montana, with Paul Bechtel


Paul Bechtel is an almost-centenarian, born 1923, whose family was lured to Eastern Montana by hopes of homesteading good land still free for the taking. Reality wasn't quite so gentle in the northern Great Plains in the rainshadow of the Rocky Mountains. He lived in Ekelaka in harsh conditions through the Great Depression and until he joined the U.S. Army in 1941, but his best memories of his entire life are from this era. It was a good place to be a free range child.

In this episode, co-hosted with Mark Teske, a wildlife biologist, Paul reminisces about eating sage grouse, measuring dirt tanks, and earning creative car payments in a remote agricultural local economy.

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

Scientific Discoveries 2022

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

June 2022:

July 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