What we do
Montana’s conservation districts are political subdivisions of state government, created by the legislature in 1939. A non-paid elected and appointed board of supervisors governs the activities of a conservation district. The 58 conservation districts in Montana are part of a national network of over 3,000 conservation districts similarly organized in all 50 states.
Their main function is to conduct local activities to promote conservation of natural resources. The activities vary from district to district, but generally include education or on-the-ground conservation projects. Conservation districts, however, have the authority to pass land use ordinances if necessary to conserve local natural resources. In addition, individuals planning to work in or near a perennial stream or river must first receive a permit from their local conservation district.
Funding for conservation district operations comes from their authority to levy a tax on real property within their district. For conservation projects and educational activities, conservation districts rely heavily on grants from state and federal governments.
The Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) provides the majority of technical assistance for conservation district activities and the two entities usually share office space when their offices are located in the same towns.
The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is required by law to provide the conservation districts with administrative, technical, financial and legal assistance.