Dawson Resource Council

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Issues

  • Agriculture
  • Local foods
  • Keystone XL Pipeline

Events

Dawson Resource Council meets on the third Thursday of each month.

Please visit our events calendar for all Northern Plains and local groups (affiliates) events and meetings.


About Us

Dawson Resource Council

2013 Annual Picnic

The Dawson Resource Council (DRC) promotes common sense development of our natural resources and family agriculture for the benefit of all citizens, today as well as tomorrow.

To do that, we:

  • Provide local citizens with credible information to shape and define policies that enhance their quality of life;
  • Hold organizations, corporations, and politicians accountable through grassroots participation.

Our efforts result in a more informed populace and encourage a strong, healthy economy, as well as a healthier environment, more favorable laws, and increased policy transparency.

History

1980’s

Dawson Resource Council, DRC, was formed on May 15, 1980, spurred by the unveiling of extensive industrial plans for what is traditionally an agricultural area. Dawson County was a hotbed of coal activity and a potential target site of large strip mines and coal gasification plants.

One of the first of DRC’s projects was the Woodstone Preference Rights Lease on Burns Creek. In 1976, the Federal government passed EISs on coal mining and gave anyone that had filed for a permit prior to 1976 an exemption under a grandfather clause. DRC worked with Northern Plains and WORC to see if they could force them to remove this preference. They were successful in the federal congress and now all leases had to abide by the same rules on all new mines. While this was happening, Woodstone quickly sold his lease to Mobil. When the Federal government, with the help of WORC, removed their preference, Mobil went to Miles City and had their permit for this land removed so the land was clear.

Around 1970, Tenneco were laying plans to mine coal in Dawson County and build a coal synfuels plant for processing the coal in Wibaux County. Synfuel production is a process for turning coal into other more useable gaseous and liquid fuels. While the end fuels may be cleaner burning, the process in itself is very polluting and requires a large amount of water. When Tenneco could not get the government to pay for the biggest share of this plant, they said they would not build it and the threat of coal mining decreased in Dawson County.

In the mid- to late 1980’s, DRC was active on farm crisis issues. Since Dawson County is agriculturally based, DRC has seen a decrease in the size of Glendive and other towns, as well as farmers and ranchers leaving since the start of the consolidation of agriculture. In the past, many Glendive merchants have not understood the importance of a healthy farm economy for their businesses.

DRC also worked on credit issues when the Production Credit Association (PCA) was closed in the area. PCAs are part of the federal government’s Farm Credit Bank. PCAs deal in short term loans to cover farm operating expenses. They are cooperatively financed, and when a farmer takes out a loan part of the loan goes to buy a share (called a b stock) in the bank. The northwest regional bank was in trouble during the 1980s and closed some of its local operations. When the local PCA closed, they did not return the b stock shares to the farmers. DRC fought to get the b stock back and succeeded.

1990’s

In the 1990’s, DRC worked on international trade issues, including NAFTA, GATT, and the importation of Canadian grain. They coordinated an effective local campaign on both NAFTA and GATT, producing bumper stickers proclaiming “AFTA NAFTA – THE SHAFTA”. Members met with Max Baucus, Conrad Burns, and Pat Williams on both trade deals. They generated letters to the editor, postcards, and a couple press releases.

In 1993, DRC members were involved in the Big Dry Resource Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement.

On the issues of Canadian grain imports, in late 1994 they coordinated a farmers’ exchange, including extensive press coverage and a local public meeting. DRC invited allies from the Canadian Farmers’ Union to participate in a panel discussion of the U.S.-Canadian agricultural trade conflict. The event turned out a fair-sized crowd and helped to redefine the debate on the Canadian Wheat Board. Later on, DRC members took part in a Canadian National Farmers’ Union rally in Regina.

A successful recruitment drive was through DRC’s work on FGIS testing errors in wheat protein. Members held a public meeting to encourage local producers to file legal claims for lost protein premiums. This generated considerable interest and some new members. DRC leaders followed up on that meeting with some one-on-ones, recruiting even more members.

2000’s

Dawson County is very lucky to be home to the largest state park in Montana that covers over 11,400 acres, Makoshika State Park. In the 2000s, DRC was successful in getting drilling outlawed from inside of Makoshika State Park, as well as doubling the park’s size.

In the 2000’s, DRC also created and distributed a survey on local food in Dawson County that was later used in a successful Farm-to-Table grant proposal that started the Farm-to-Table store.

NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL
220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154
info@northernplains.org