Garfield County is in central Eastern Montana. The Musselshell River forms the western boundary; Fort Peck Reservoir lies on the northern boundary. Most of Garfield County is drained by Big Dry Creek, which, prior to the construction of Fort Peck Dam, joined the Missouri River in the northeast corner of the county. The creek is often intermittent after about mid-July. Average annual precipitation ranges from eleven to fourteen inches, and elevation ranges from 2,185 to 3,570 feet. Garfield County has an area of 4,849.2 square miles with a population of 1,286. About 332 people live in Jordan, the county seat. Sixty percent of the land in Garfield County is privately owned; the greatest share of public land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Both homesteading and oil have played important roles in Garfield County history. Drought, economic hardship and the limitations imposed on small-scale dryland farming by the climate and the distance to market proved to be more than the homesteaders could overcome. While the oil industry is active in the county, it does not play as great a role in the economy as in other areas of eastern Montana.
Today, a great many, if not most, of the residents of the county are involved in crop and livestock production. There are 260 farms in Garfield County, about seventy-three percent of which are one thousand acres or more. Cattle production is important, and forage for livestock is the most widely grown crop, followed by spring wheat and winter wheat. The NRCS office, located in Jordan, offers voluntary technical and financial assistance to private landowners interested in natural resource conservation based on a focused approach using long range planning with local input.
Current Financial Assistance Opportunities for Garfield County Landowners
- Big Game Habitat Improvement RCPP Project
- Sage Grouse Initiative
- Deferred Grazing Drought Recovery TIP
- Increasing Stock Density & Reducing Grazing Duration to Promote Plant Recovery TIP
In addition to these local projects, producers may also apply for statewide programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, national Environmental Quality Incentives Program initiatives, and conservation easement programs. For more information on these and other programs, see State Programs and Initiatives on the NRCS Montana webpage.