Ravalli County is located in southwestern Montana, along the Bitterroot River between the Bitterroot Range and Sapphire Mountains. The county extends approximately 95 miles from Lost Trail Pass in Idaho to a point near the city of Missoula. To the west is the Bitterroot Range and to the east is the smaller Sapphire Mountains. The Bitterroot Range has steep faces, deep canyons, is heavily forested, and is within the Bitterroot National Forest. The Sapphire Mountains are more rounded, drier, and much less forested. The southern end of the valley is split into the East and West Forks of the Bitterroot River, and the northern end has the confluence of the Bitterroot River with the Clark Fork River.
Ravalli County, population 43,172, covers 2,391 square miles, and includes federal, state, county and privately-owned land. US Forest Service and Wilderness occur to both the west and eastside of the valley. Communities within the county include Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis, Hamilton, Darby, Conner, and Sula. Hamilton, the largest town and the county, seat has a population of 4,000.
Agriculture has always been at the root of survival in the valley. In the early 1900s, the Bitterroot Valley had nearly a million apple trees, and was one of the world's largest producers of MacIntosh apples at that time. Settlement has continued since that time with a significant increase in population in the last 30 years. Significant agricultural commodities in Ravalli County today are logging and timber, cattle, apples, sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, and dairy. The NRCS office, located in Hamilton, 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 Ravalli County Landowners
- Robbins Gulch Forest Health Targeted Implementation Plan (TIP)
- Fire Adapted Bitterroot (FAB) Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership Project
- Sapphire Front Forest Health Targeted Implementation Plan (TIP)
- Bitterroot Conservation Connectivity RCPP Project
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.