BLM - Bureau of Land Management

10/10/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/10/2019 16:01

Rangeland Stewardship Award presented to Garfield County Conservation District

MILES CITY, Mont. --- The Bureau of Land Management's Miles City Field Office nominated the Garfield County Conservation District for the 2019 Rangeland Stewardship Award in appreciation for years of cooperation on a multitude of fronts.

The District was presented with the award in a ceremony in Great Falls, on September 26. The Conservation District's work has directly benefited range land health in Garfield County --as well as other surrounding counties-- during its 75 years of existence.

In 2017, Garfield County survived the largest fire in the entire state of Montana. Approximately 270,383 acres of deeded, state and public land burned. Hay donations poured in from numerous counties and states. This created an issue with the possibility of new invasive species infestations. The District wrote a grant for the Noxious Weed Trust Fund to inventory every ranch that received donated hay. Once that was accomplished, the district opened up the opportunity for other ranchers hay grounds to be inventoried.

Through this grant Canada thistle, black henbane, spotted knapweed, Russian knapweed and dalmation toadflax infestations were identified and mapped. The District also initiated a Noxious Weed Assistance Agreement with the BLM to treat weed infestations on Public Lands within Garfield County. The District has also been long-term members of the Salt Cedar Task Force working group and through this organization, seven miles of salt cedar infestations have been treated in the Seven Blackfoot drainage and along the Missouri River on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, BLM, Montana DNRC and private lands.

The District also partnered with the BLM on a Fire Mitigation Assistance Agreement. This agreement has been in place for multiple years. The Conservation District uses this money for Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) projects. This agreement was critical in relation to the 2017 Lodgepole Complex wildfire.

For the last four years the Conservation District has implemented a range-monitoring pilot project. This project involves private, BLM and USFWS lands. Monitoring is focused on fuel load reduction to improve wildlife habitat and promote native plant species.

Each member of the Garfield County Conservation District is required to be board members on other councils. Whether they are partnering on the Montana Water Coordination Council or the Montana Invasive Species Council or any of the other seven boards they partner with, Garfield County will definitely benefit from it.

From a BLM standpoint, the Miles City Field Office would not be nearly as effective in achieving the goals of protecting and enhancing range land health on Public Lands if it were not for the compassionate cooperation and active involvement of the Garfield County Conservation District.