One Montana releases Drought Resilient Ranching Workshops Report

In cooperation with MSU Extension Service and the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, One Montana hosted three workshops (Clyde Park, Two Dot, and Winnett) to provide an opportunity for collaboration in regards to drought resilience. The goal was to facilitate conversations and share knowledge to answer several important questions:

  •  In times of drought, how can farmers and ranchers implement effective management strategies?
  • How can producers adapt to changing weather conditions?
  • What resources are available to predict weather and soil conditions?
  • What resources do producers already utilize?
  • What recommendations do participants have for the USDA on improving drought-related programs?

    Workshop content included presentations from Michael Downey of DNRC about the Flash Drought of 2017, Lee Schmelzer of Stillwater County Extension about the Montana Mesonet, and a talk from Jeff Mosley (Clyde Park and Two Dot) and Mat Walter (Winnett) of MSU Extension titled “Managing Plant Communities After Drought.” The workshops also included group discussion sessions during which participants shared their experiences with the 2017 drought, their perspectives on effective rangeland management strategies during and after drought, and their feedback on resource availability and agency response during times of drought.

To view the full report head over to One Montana’s website.


Consider filing for “Exempt” Water Rights

– by Krista Lee Evans

Water rights are a property right critical to agricultural production, that water users need to protect.

In the early 1980’s, at the beginning of the adjudication process, the Montana Supreme Court issued an order that all water users who wanted to claim a right to use water that was put to use before 1973 had to file a claim with the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC).   The Court did, however, provide two exceptions to this requirement – instream stock use and domestic use – that was used prior to 1973.  These are the “Exempt From Filing” Water Rights that we now have the chance to address.

This year’s passage of HB 110 provided a means to protect these property rights by clarifying the opportunity to file a claim for any “exempt” instream stock or domestic rights that were put to use prior to 1973, and that have not been claimed in the adjudication process.

It is important that we recognize the significant opportunity that this provides to Montana’s water users because it most likely will not occur again in the future.

Remember, it is not mandatory that you file; and if a water user chooses not to file for their pre-1973 “exempt from filing” claims, they do not lose their water right, but those rights will be subordinated to all other water rights on the stream.

Landowners should double check all of their water rights to make sure that they reflect their water use.

My advice is that if your property has any instream livestock water rights (meaning where stock drink directly from the source with no diversion), or domestic water rights (such as a home or stock well) that were put to use prior to 1973, and have not been claimed in the adjudication process, then you should seriously consider submitting a claim under the current process.

You can search for your water rights online by going to DNRC’s website water right query at




From a long-time ranching family in central Montana, Krista Lee Evans now lives in Helena where she owns Blake Creek Project Management, Inc.  Evans has worked as a consultant in Montana’s water rights policy arena for over 15 years.

Sidney rancher, Bozeman NRCS employee honored with Range Leader awards

MSGA member and rancher from Sidney, Duane Ullman

MSGA member and rancher from Sidney, Duane Ullman

By Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

The Governor’s Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC) announced today that rancher Duane Ullman of Sidney and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employee Matt Ricketts of Bozeman have been chosen as recipients of the 2014 Range Leader of the Year awards.

“Duane Ullman and Matt Ricketts are genuine leaders in the field of range management,” said Les Gilman, Rangeland Resources Executive Committee Chairman from Alder, Mont. “Their commitment to education and the principles of stewardship represents the best of Montana agriculture.”

Mr. Ullman was a supervisor on the Richland County Conservation District board for 15 years and was nominated to this award for his progressive style of managing his family farm and ranch near Sidney, Mont.

Duane has made many improvements to his ranch including seeding farmland to pasture, cross fencing, stockwater pipelines and stock tanks, and a prescribed grazing plan. He has worked with both the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks to make improvements on his ranch. Those improvements are beneficial to the cattle, land and wildlife.

Duane has also opened up his ranch to public tours, pasture walks and demonstrations. He has showcased his grazing plan, rangeland chiseling project, equipment and monitoring sites.

Matt Ricketts is currently the Rangeland Management Specialist in the Bozeman Area Office and has over 32 years of service with the NRCS and is a life member of the Society for Range Management. He was nominated for his dedication to rangeland across Montana.

NRCS employee Matt Rickets of Bozeman

NRCS employee Matt Rickets of Bozeman

Matt has many accomplishments in the field of range science and has worked with multiple ranchers in the state. He has worked on many range inventories and other data collections. He has done extensive work on grazing management in sage grouse habitat areas and assists producers with the Nutrient Balance program.  He has also assisted in ecological site descriptions.

Matt is also very passionate about teaching. He has taught at the Wheatland County Range Ride and Montana Range Days for many years. He has conducted many workshops for producers and also teaches at NRCS personnel courses. Matt continues to improve himself by continually researching and publishing papers.

Duane Ullman and Matt Ricketts received their awards last week in Billings during the 2015 Winter Grazing Seminar sponsored by the Yellowstone Conservation District, Rangeland Resources Executive Committee and the Montana DNRC.

For more information on the Rangeland Resources Program, the Range Leader of the Year Award, or other grazing and range management efforts sponsored by DNRC, contact Heidi Crum at (406) 444-6619, or visit the DNRC Web site.

Governor’s Range Tour, September 4-5 in Ronan, Montana

Montana Annual Governor's Range Tour

Save the date!! 2014 Annual Range Tour will be hosted by Lake County Conservation District (LCCD) in Ronan, MT on September 4-5.

The Lake County Conservation District, Rangeland Resources Executive Committee (RREC), and DNRC would like to invite you to attend the 2014 Annual Range Tour. The tour will be held Thursday September 4th and Friday September 5th, in the beautiful Mission Valley.

The tour will be based at the Amish Community Building located between Ronan and St. Ignatius, MT. This year the focus of the tour will be intensive “mob” grazing on tame pastures in the Mission Valley. The first day will feature four ranchers and their mob grazing stories along with a body condition scoring workshop from MSU Beef Cattle Extension Specialist Rachel Endecott. The day will conclude with a banquet at the Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo, MT with Governor Bullock invited for the keynote address. The second day of the tour will feature an electric fencing demonstration with various techniques and infrastructure.

For additional information please contact Chris Malgren (406) 676-2842×102, Ben Montgomery (406) 676-2842×111, or Heidi Crum (406) 444-6619.