Montana Drought Resilience

Montanans put their head down, work hard, and are willing to share their secrets.

My dad has told me the reason businessmen and women buy expensive suits is to prove to those around them how successful they are. When you don’t have any work to show, you show off some fancy clothes.

You don’t find much of this around here. Everyone owns only one nice suit, and business attire is a button down, jeans, and a belt buckle. Even when someone has a great year, you’ll still see them driving their old Ford around town, picking up salt blocks.

In Montana, when you’re doing better than your neighbor, the last thing you want to do is push it in their face.

This past January, Montana State University Extension Service, Musselshell Watershed Coalition and One Montana hosted three Drought Resilient Ranching Workshops around the state. Recently they released a full report of the workshops.

What was reassuring, but not surprising, was the compassion those in the workshops expressed for the communities that had it worse than they did.

“It was kind of embarrassing going around to rodeos and everyone’s talking about how they’ve got no grass, and we’ve got grass galore…at least until it really started to get dry,” one rancher in Clyde Park noted. “We kind of wanted to hide our heads because everywhere else was bad, but our little pocket up there was good.”

Folks in Clyde Park during a break out session.

Folks in the Clyde Park area generally felt they were lucky compared to those further east, and they themselves had an abnormally dry year. And people in the Two Dot area expressed gratitude that they had it better than folks along the Musselshell.

The folks at the workshop didn’t just leave it at that. They also gave all their own advice on how to best manage drought. It feels good to live in a state where people share their secrets, rather than showing off their success.

You can find all the advice in the full report here.

-Andie Creel

Got something to say to Prairie Populist? Send news tips, story ideas and comments to [email protected]. If you have something to submit, or an idea for a story you’d like to write for us, check out our Submission Guidelines here.

Feature photo by August L. Schield