Of all the western states, Montana alone has a statutory network of State Grazing Districts (map) cooperative areas of diverse ownership that allow for the greatest use of range forage while conserving limited natural resources. Grazing districts are non-profit, cooperative associations of ranchers and farmers who raise livestock. The Montana Grass Conservation Act of 1939 organized these cooperative grazing areas into 26 districts-which include federal grazing lands mingled with state, county and private lands-encompassing more than 10 million acres. Today there are 29 total districts, concentrated in the eastern part of the state.
The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), and its Conservation and Resource Development Division, carries out the purposes of the Montana Grass Conservation Act, serving as an advisory capacity to the Department of State Lands and the boards of county commissioners in counties where grazing districts are located.
The Montana Grass Commission, re-created by the Montana State Legislature in 1999, oversees the implementation of the Montana Grass Conservation Act. This commission is also served by an Executive Vice President, Sandra Brown of Terry.