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Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

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Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Agency overview
FormedDecember 20, 1971
Preceding agencies
  • Montana Council on Natural Resources and Development
  • Montana Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
  • Montana State Board of Forestry
  • Montana State Conservation Commission
  • Montana State Forester
  • Montana Water Resources Board
Employees523.8 FTEs (2016)
Annual budget$240.6 million (2016)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMontana, United States
Size147,165 square miles (381,160 km2)
Population1,042,520 (2016)
Legal jurisdictionState of Montana
Operational structure
Headquarters1539 Eleventh Avenue, Helena, Montana
Agency executives
Patrol carsVarious cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles
BoatsVarious patrol and utility craft
PlanesLight observation aircraft and helicopters

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is a government agency in the executive branch state of Montana in the United States with responsibility for ensuring sustainable development of the state's land, mineral, natural gas, oil, timber, water, and other resources.


Almost two-thirds of Montana voters approved of Amendment 2, the Montana Executive Department Allocation Amendment, on November 3, 1970. This amendment required that there be no more than 20 state executive or administrative offices, agencies, boards, bureaus, or commissions.[1] The Montana Legislature passed enabling legislation, the Executive Reorganization Act, in 1971, which gave Governor Forrest H. Anderson the legal authority to reorganize state government.[2] On December 20, 1971, Governor Anderson used this authority to create, by executive order, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.[3] The agency superseded the Montana Council on Natural Resources and Development, Montana Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Montana State Board of Forestry, Montana State Conservation Commission, Montana State Forester, and Montana Water Resources Board.[4]

Organization and budget

Director and organization

Amanda Kaster was appointed the current Director of Montana DNRC by Governor Greg Gianforte.[5]

DNRC has six divisions:[6]

  • The Director's Office—This division provides policy and managerial leadership for the department, and administrative support services to itself and other divisions, boards, and commissions.
  • Oil and Gas Conservation Division—This division supports the Board of Oil and Gas. The board has the statutory authority to issue oil and gas drilling permits; classify oil and natural gas wells; administer completion, disaster, and reclamation bonds for oil and natural gas wells; oversees and regulates the plugging of abandoned oil and natural gas wells; and levies civil and criminal fines on drillers and well operators who violate state law and board regulations. Previously the administrative and technical arm of the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, this division has only minimal attachment to the department.
  • Conservation and Resource Development Division—This division provides technical and administrative assistance to conservation districts in the state. It also makes grants and loans to these districts.
  • Water Resources Division—This division oversees dam safety; floodplain programs; the development, regulation, and operation of state-financed water development projects; water development and use planning; and the verification, examination, and filing of existing and future water rights.
  • Forestry Division—This division oversees the development, management, operation, and regulation of state forests. It also provides forest and prairie fire prevention and fire suppression services.
  • Trust Land Management Division—This division manages of trust lands owned by the State of Montana.

In addition to its divisions, nine boards and commissions are attached to the department for administrative purposes only: Board of Land Commissioners, Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, Board of Water Well Contractors, Drought Advisory Committee, Flathead Basin Commission, Montana Grass Conservation Commission, Rangeland Resources Committee, Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission, and the Resource Conservation Advisory Council.

Budget and personnel

The DNRC had a total budget of $240.6 million in 2016. Trust lands generated 48 percent of its budget. Revenue operations (fees, services, etc.) generated another 21 percent of all revenues, with general state revenues adding 12 percent and interest on debt another 10 percent.[7]

The DNRC had 523.8 full-time equivalent employees in 2016.[8]

Discover more about Organization and budget related topics

Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte

Gregory Richard Gianforte is an American businessman, politician, software engineer, and writer serving as the 25th governor of Montana since 2021. A member of the Republican Party, Gianforte served as the U.S. representative for Montana's at-large congressional district from 2017 to 2021.

Water right

Water right

Water right in water law refers to the right of a user to use water from a water source, e.g., a river, stream, pond or source of groundwater. In areas with plentiful water and few users, such systems are generally not complicated or contentious. In other areas, especially arid areas where irrigation is practiced, such systems are often the source of conflict, both legal and physical. Some systems treat surface water and ground water in the same manner, while others use different principles for each.

State Trust Lands

State Trust Lands

State trust lands were granted by the United States Congress to states upon entering the Union. These lands were designated to support essential public institutions which are primarily public schools. State trust land managers lease and sell these lands to generate revenue for current and future designated beneficiaries. Predominantly found in the western United States, 46 million acres of land are currently designated as trust lands and the proceeds from the lease and sale of these lands are distributed into a state's permanent fund and used for many purposes.

Full-time equivalent

Full-time equivalent

Full-time equivalent (FTE), or whole time equivalent (WTE), is a unit of measurement that indicates the workload of an employed person in a way that makes workloads or class loads comparable across various contexts. FTE is often used to measure a worker's or student's involvement in a project, or to track cost reductions in an organization. An FTE of 1.0 is equivalent to a full-time worker or student, while an FTE of 0.5 signals half of a full work or school load.

Source: "Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, March 24th),

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  1. ^ Elison & Snyder 2001, p. 130.
  2. ^ Malone, Roeder & Lang 1991, p. 393.
  3. ^ Governor's Conference on Montana Rangeland 1976, p. 46.
  4. ^ Task Force on Natural Resources and Conservation 1971, pp. 7–24.
  5. ^ "Governor-elect Gianforte Announces Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation". 30 December 2020.
  6. ^ Legislative Fiscal Division 2016, pp. 2–3.
  7. ^ Legislative Fiscal Division 2016, p. 3.
  8. ^ Legislative Fiscal Division 2016, p. 2.

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