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Montana Ag Network: Ranchers work to improve environment

Soil and rangeland health is the backbone of any farm or ranch.

Recently, some Montana ranchers traveled to Reno, Nevada to attend the 7th National Grazing Lands Coalition Conference (NGLCC). The event gave ranchers and researchers the opportunity to share and gain knowledge to improve the environment and their family businesses.

Cutting-edge technologies and management systems for sustainably-managing private and public lands were the focus of this year’s NGLCC. Attendees learned information they could take home and implement on their ranches.

Judith Gap rancher Bob Lee said he welcomed the opportunity to tell other people his story.

“Taking care of that greatest renewable resource, our grazing lands, not only for our families on the grounds, but our wildlife and for water preservation. We work to keep water in the soil and not having the soil running off down the stream. It is exciting and something I’ve loved my whole life,” he said.

At the conference, attendees were able to hear from fellow ranchers and researchers on the latest developments and trends they can use to improve their operations and natural resources.

Ben Lehfeldt is a rancher from Lavina, who also represents the American Sheep Industry Association. He gave a presentation on leafy spurge and noxious weeds at the last conference. He’s looking forward to this year’s presentations.

“Learning more about the goats and the sheep industry and how people are lowering their lease costs or helping others control those noxious weeds or brush areas,” he said. “Any workshop that can improve my business, I’m going to try to attend here while I’m down here.”

According to Carla Lawrence, the Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative coordinator, Montana has always had a strong presence at the national conferences.

“I would say for sure that Montana is one of the leading states when it comes to the national part,” Lawrence said.

She will retire at the end of December with over 20 years of service to the Montana GLCI. Over those two decades, Lawrence has helped grow the GLCI and create friendships along the way.

“It’s definitely the ranchers,” said Lawrence. “It’s being out on the ground, and it’s the people. I have been learning from them more than I probably was ever was able to provide them. I going to miss the people, but for the most part, I’ve been with them so long, we’re all pretty much friends, so I’ll be able to stay in touch that way.”

For more information on the Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and the grant funds they provide for range management projects, visit mtglci.org.

-Reported by Lane Nordlund/MTN News

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