Powder River County lies in southeastern Montana and borders Wyoming to the south. With an area of around 3,200 square miles and a population of 1,716, the county has roughly 30 sheep or cattle per square mile versus 0.5 people per square mile. Over one-fourth of the residents live in Broadus, the only incorporated town in the county.
The Powder River runs southwest to northeast, draining the central part of the county into the Yellowstone River in Custer County. Except for the relatively flat river bottom of the Powder River Valley the surrounding country is hilly, with numerous creeks and coulees. Steeper forested terrain is found in the western part of the county, and grassy hills and draws occur in the eastern part. The majority (65%) of land in Powder River County is privately owned. The remaining 35% is public land, with US Forest Service (USFS) managing the majority of public land in the county.
The economy of Powder River County is mainly agricultural. Grazingland is the dominant land use, followed by forested areas. Productive and accessible land is commonly used to raise perennial hay or as pastured cropland. The small amount of annual cropland is typically used to grow grains such as winter wheat, spring wheat, and barley, commonly managed in a crop fallow system. Outdoor recreation is another significant contributor to the county’s economy. Visitors primarily hunting elk, deer, antelope, and turkey boost on-farm and local business income. The NRCS office, located in Broadus, offers voluntary technical and financial assistance based on a focused approach using long range planning with local input.
Current Financial Assistance Opportunities for Powder River County Landowners
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.