Forest Service grazing allotments sustain Madison County producers

A significant portion of Madison County’s largest industry – agriculture – depends on Forest Service land in the Upper Ruby for summer grazing pastures.

“We love these grazing allotments and we care for them like they’re our base land,” Twin Bridges rancher Rick Sandru said.

Sandru’s ranch is one of seven in Madison County that makes up the Ruby Valley Stock Association – the association has eight grazing permits on a 72,000-acre Forest Service allotment in the Upper Ruby called the Three Forks allotment. Unfortunately, the rangeland is currently suffering from conifer encroachment and the spread of noxious weeds.

On July 22, a handful of cattle and sheep permittees met with Forest Supervisor Melany Glossa, new Madison District Ranger Dale Olson, other Forest Service employees, representatives from the Montana Stockgrowers Association, members of the Montana Public Lands Council, and Barb Cestero with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to tour the allotment and explain how grazing is compatible with other land uses like watershed and riparian health improvement.

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