Saturday, February 4, 2023

“Preserving our Prairie Neighborhood”


On September 14th and 15th around 150 ranchers, conservationists and range  managers came to Phillips County for the 2010 Montana Governor’s Range Tour. The first day of Tour focused on the southern part of the County, between Malta and the Missouri River, as an enthusiatic crowd packed into three busses and a dozen personal vehicles for the trip. Below, Taylor Brown collected some of the thoughts and comments of ranchers in that area that hosted Day One of the tour.

 Leo Barthelmess describes the area to many guests who have never been in south Phillips County before. 

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 Vicki Olson shared the agricultural history of families like hers, and their apprehension about what the future will bring. 

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Tom Welch, College Professor from MSU-Northern brought a class of college students on the tour.

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Bill French discussed his water-spreading improvements, the need to work WITH Mother Nature, and to be be careful about trying to change too much.  And he said he doesn’t think anybody could ever remove his own family from the landscape.

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Signs along the road way, and even an occasional Tee-Shirt, made it clear that Phillips County ranchers do not want to see the Obama Administration use the “Treasured Landscapes” initiative to create more national monuments in Montana.



 Kevin Koss explained some of the challenges of home schooling when you have to drive 22 miles of dirt road to the nearest country school, and live 50 miles from town.

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Rancher Dale Veseth described how the Nature Conservancy leases land to ranch families like his, through the Matador Grass Bank, in return for ranchers following good conservation practices.  Veseth also explained the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance.

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All-in-all it was a very informational, and at times emotional, day with Phillips County ranch families, both for the Governor’s Rangeland Resources Executive Committee…and for those who joined them on the 2010 tour!   

Submitted by Taylor Brown

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