Richland County is in the Missouri River Country, bordering North Dakota in north eastern Montana. It has a land area of about 2,065 square miles and a population of 11,039. The Yellowstone River runs north and east across the southeast corner of the county and the Missouri River marks the northern border. The predominant land cover types in the county are cultivated crops and lowland prairie grassland, with smaller areas of wooded draws and ravines, badlands, and wetlands or riparian areas. Precipitation averages 13 to 14 inches per year on the north and east sides of the county; the west and central areas receive a yearly average of 14-15 inches.
The county sits above an interbedded sequence of black shale, siltstone and sandstone which contains the largest contiguous deposits of oil and natural gas in the U.S., known as the Bakken Formation. Since discovery of the Elm Coulee Oil Field in 2000 and introduction of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), oil and natural gas production have become significant in Richland County.
Most of the land in the Richland County is dedicated to agriculture. Wheat is the number one crop, followed by crops grown for hay, silage and other feed for livestock. Richland County also leads the State in sugar beet production, though acreage in sugar beets has been decreasing. Cattle are an equally important sector of the agriculture economy. The NRCS office, located in Sidney, 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 Richland County Landowners
- Conversion of Expired Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Acres to Healthy Grazing Lands Targeted Implementation Plan (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.