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Common Questions About NRCS

Question: What is the NRCS?
Answer: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the federal agency that works with landowners to conserve natural resources on private lands. NRCS is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We were formerly called the Soil Conservation Service (SCS).

Question: What does NRCS do?
Answer: The agency provides technical and financial assistance to conserve natural resources. While much of the technical assistance helps farmers and ranchers develop conservation systems uniquely suited to their land, the agency also provides assistance to other private landowners and communities to reduce erosion, conserve and protect water, and address other resource concerns. See the Montana NRCS Technical Resources and Montana NRCS Programs web pages.

Question: Where are NRCS field offices located?
Answer: NRCS field offices are located in nearly every county in Montana and on the seven reservations. The locations of field offices in Montana are listed on the Local NRCS Service Centers (Field Offices) in Montana web page.

Question: When did the name of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) change to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)?
Answer: SCS became NRCS in 1994 to better reflect its expanded role of helping to protect natural resources such as water, air, plants, and animals on private and tribal lands.

Question: How do I contact NRCS?
Answer: You can find information about your local NRCS office by looking up “USDA Service Center” or “Natural Resources” in the federal government pages of your phone book. Contact information for each NRCS field office in Montana is also available at the Montana NRCS Office Locations web page.

Question: Are NRCS publications available to the public?
Answer: Yes. There are several ways to get NRCS publications. Your local NRCS field office, the NRCS state office, or the NRCS Distribution Center office may have the document you are looking for. Visit the Publications web page to find a catalog of publications available through the NRCS state office and a link to order publications online from the NRCS Distribution Center office.

Question: Does NRCS publish any educational materials?
Answer: On the Conservation Education web page, several materials are available including soils lesson plans, activity books covering a variety of topics, links to additional Web sites, and tree planting guidelines. If you would like to receive any of these materials as hard copies rather than electronically, contact NRCS public affairs at 587-6969.

Question: Can I get information about Montana for my school report?
Answer: NRCS has some limited information about Montana that would be appropriate for a school report. Contact NRCS public affairs to request this type of information. For some really good information about Montana, visit the State of Montana Web site, the Montana Kids Web site, the Travel Montana Web site, and the Montana Historical Society's Resources for Students Web site.

Question: I know NRCS has a volunteer program. How do I get involved?
Answer: First, you can get more information about the Earth Team volunteer program at the NRCS Earth Team Volunteers web page. If you would like to volunteer locally, contact the NRCS field office in your county to find out about any volunteer opportunities they may have.

Question: How do I find out about employment opportunities with NRCS?
Answer: Connect to the USA JOBS Web site. This site will help you to find and apply for jobs with NRCS and throughout the federal government. For more information about job opportunities with NRCS in Montana, contact the Human Resources Section, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Building Room 443, 10 East Babcock Street, Bozeman, MT 59715; call 406-587-6937; e-mail: Sharon Huber; or visit the Careers with NRCS web page.

Question: How can I find a map that will give the most current snow pack information?
Answer: The Map-Based 7-Day 1:00 a.m. SNOTEL Report for Montana web page will give you daily snow depths and current temperatures for all the automated SNOTEL sites in Montana.

Question: Where are county soil surveys available?
Answer: Soil surveys are generally available from your local NRCS office. Information is also available on the How to Order a Published Soil Survey web page. This page offers information including which soil surveys are published, a soil survey request form, and contact information. Many soil surveys are also available online from the Web Soil Survey.

Question: I received the county soil survey maps but not a hard copy of the soil survey manuscript. How do I get one?
Answer: New soil surveys for Montana are available only online or on a CD. A hard-copy manuscript is no longer printed. The soil survey text may be available online from the Web Soil Survey. See the How to Order a Published Soil Survey web page to order a CD version of the manuscript.

Question: Why don’t some pages, which are supposed to be updated on a regular basis, show the most current data?
Answer: The most likely problem is that the web page you are accessing is actually a copy that resides on your hard drive. To be sure you are getting the most up-to-date information, click on the “refresh” button in your internet browser.

Question: How do I make a Freedom of Information Act request?
Answer: The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute which allows any person the right to obtain federal agency records unless the records (or part of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law. On October 2, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA). E-FOIA will make it possible for individuals to have electronic access to certain USDA information without making a formal FOIA request.

Bart Huber, 406-587-6957, is Montana’s FOIA contact person. For more information, visit the NRCS Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) web page.