A griculture is the heartbeat of Ruby Valley Montana, where cattle outnumber people. Madison County ranks 2nd in Montana for quality alfalfa hay production, and 10th for number of beef cattle. Honey, seed potatoes, small-grains, sheep, and bison all contribute to the economic well-being of Madison County and the State of Montana.

A healthy balance of resource management ensures not only the economic sustainability of Ruby Valley Montana’s farms and ranches, schools, and local towns; but also contributes to the environmental sustainability necessary for maintaining open space, thriving wildlife habitat, and fisheries so important to Montana’s 2nd largest industry — tourism.

The Greater Ruby Valley and surrounding valleys of southwest Montana have a rich legacy of land conservation and environmental stewardship. Some of the key recognition is listed below, and is representative of ranches and ranching families who are committed to the health and sustainability of natural resources. It’s a fact of the life they live: The healthier the resources, the more sustainable and healthy their business.

Max Moltich and Ray Marxer
Local award-winning land managers, Max Moltich and Ray Marxer riding for the Warm Springs Grazing Association
Montana, Regional, & National Environmental Stewardship Award Winners from Southwest Montana

Montana State Winners:

  • 2000 – Warm Springs Grazing Association, Alder
  • 1998 – Ray Marxer, Matador Cattle Co., Dillon
  • 1995 – Sitz Family, Sitz Angus Ranch, Harrison
  • 1992 –  Smith 6-S Ranch, Glen

Region V Winners:

  • 1998 – Ray Marxer, Matador Cattle Co., Dillon
  • 1995 – Sitz Angus Ranch, Harrison
  • 1992 – Smith 6-S Ranch, Glen

National Winners:

  • 1998 – Ray Marxer, Matador Cattle Co., Dillon

Madison Valley & Ruby Valley Conservation Awards
  • 2012 Madison Valley Stewardship winners, Lynn Owens, North Meadow Creek out of McAllister
  • 2012 Ruby Valley Stewardship winners, Dave Dixon, Snowcrest Ranch
  • 2013 Madison Valley Stewardship winners, Cora and Bob Goggins, Ennis
  • 2013 Ruby Valley Stewardship winners, George Trischman, Hamilton Ranches, Twin Bridges
  • 2013 Montana Weed Control Association’s Weed Fighter of the Year award Rick Sandru, Twin Bridges
  • 2014 Ruby Valley Conservation District Stewardship Award: Dan Doornbos, Sauerbier Ranch, Alder
  • 2014 Madison Conservation District Stewardship Award: Bar K Ranch, Luke Todd, Lloyd Mann, owner Andrew Kelly

Montana Wetland Stewardship Awards:

  • 2013 Valley Garden Ranch, Madison County
  • 2005 Laszlo Family, Granger Ranches, Madison Valley near Ennis Montana

National Wetland Stewardship Awards:

  • 2010 Award for Landowner Stewardship Laszlo Family, Granger Ranches, Madison Valley near Ennis Montana

The Early Years

Early agriculture was established on the heels of the mining booms to meet the needs of unprecedented populations. Water was plentiful — a critical agricultural component in the semi-arid West. Ruby Valley is fortunate to be nestled at the base of seven different mountain ranges. Water rights and irrigation ditches dug in 1863 are still in use today, some of them by direct descendants of the original user. Ruby Reservoir and associated irrigation canals were constructed in the late 1930’s. Stored water in the reservoir serves to irrigate previously dry bench lands and to supplement irrigated acres while maintaining a viable riparian corridor the length of the valley that serves as habitat for countless species of game and non-game wildlife and fish.

  • NRCS: 15 minute historical conservation video. The hard times that fostered the conservation movement beginning after the dust bowl days of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Published on Dec 4, 2014. Click here to view.

Handy Resource Links for Agriculture in Montana
  • Northern Ag Network – Up-to-the-minute reporting, Northern Ag Network provides hourly farm news and market reports, weather programs and special features. In addition, the Northern Ag Network produces two daily Ag Television programs, one in early morning and one at noon, which are seen on eight of Montana’s premier television stations.
  • Montana Dept. of Agriculture – Excellent resource from Ag in the Classroom, and 4-H, to Hay Hotline, Noxious Weeds, producer guides and links, and the latest news affecting Montana Agriculture.
  • Farm Flavor – Montana Dept. of Agriculture. This site is loaded. From Farm to Fork – Farm Flavor features hundreds of recipes and follows food’s journey from the farmer’s field to your kitchen. Browse recipes, cooking tips, garden guides and farmer chats. Lots of pertinent advertiser links at the bottom.
  • Montana Dept. of Livestock – Now pay your per capita fees online, find a brand, keep up-to-date with animal health issues affecting Montana producers, and more.
  • Montana Kids Fun site full of easy to digest information about Montana, our industries, history, facts & figures, and more.
  • MSU Extension Service – Information, research and programs to strengthen the social, economic and environmental well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Montana 4-H, Ag Experiment Stations, and much more.
  • Ruby Valley Conservation District -The staff at the RVCD will be very helpful with a wide range of information concerning land and environment issues, noxious weeds, and conservation programs.