Dawson Resource Council
Dawson Resource Council is a grassroots organization of farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens who wish to promote, preserve and protect our land, water, air and food for future generations. DRC will work for a fair economic environment for agriculture and to preserve rural communities.
Agriculture & Local Foods
Agriculture is the backbone of eastern Montana. But money leaves the state every day when we feed our families. Dawson Resource Council is working to keep agriculture viable, diversify our local economy, and revitalize our rural communities by rebuilding a food system that works for both farmers and eaters.
We believe in protecting our land, air, and water, and doing what we can do eliminate waste. Right now, Dawson County doesn’t have any recycling facilities or programs—meaning that everything we generate ends up in the local landfill. We’re working to find a solution to that, and help bring recycling back to Glendive.
Radioactive Oil Waste
Glendive is home to Montana’s first radioactive oil waste disposal facility, which receives waste from North Dakota’s oilfields. In partnership with Northern Plains, Dawson Resource Council has worked since the facility’s opening in 2013 to watchdog operations there, and push for better landowner and water protections around radioactive oil waste disposal across our state.
History and Campaign Wins
Since its inception in 1980 after extensive industrial plans were unveiled for Dawson County, DRC has achieved many victories. Our favorites are highlighted below.
- Protected Makoshika State Park from oil and gas drilling, and doubled the park in size.
Makoshika State Park is one of Glendive’s most treasured landscapes, and the largest state park in Montana. In the early 2000s, the park was under threat of oil and gas drilling. DRC successfully passed legislation to protect Makoshika from drilling, and managed to double the park in size, while we were at it!
- Successfully pushed the Dawson County Commissioners to adopt a resolution supporting local foods.
DRC is working to build eastern Montana’s local food system by creating economies that support local producers. In 2016, we mounted a campaign to convince the Dawson County Commission to support that effort—and we won!
- Fought for farmers and ranchers in the farm credit crisis of the 1980s.
DRC helped rewrite foreclosure laws to ensure that farmers and ranchers facing loss of their land could walk away with more than what existing laws guaranteed them (hint: it wasn’t much). We also helped recover bank shares owned by farmers (through farm loans) that farmers were losing as banks went out of business.
- Protected taxpayers from footing the bill for a proposed coal synfuels plant in Wibaux County.
The company proposing the plant, Tenneco, sought government funding to pay for the biggest share of their project. When Tenneco couldn’t get the funding they wanted, they withdrew their plans to build it.
- Ensured that all coal mining leases would be subject to updated environmental standards.
In 1976, the federal government gave anyone that had filed for a permit prior to that year the right to not do a full environmental impact statement, under what was called “preference rights leasing.” DRC successfully lobbied against that grandfather clause, ensuring that all mines would be held to the same rules.
- Coordinated a farmers’ exchange between eastern Montanans and Canadian farmers to collectively work on trade issues in the 1990s.
In the 1990s, DRC worked on international trade issues in NAFTA, GATT, and the importation of Canadian grain. We coordinated an effective local campaign to fight NAFTA, and our members even met with Max Baucus, Conrad Burns, and Pat Williams. In 1994, we worked closely with farm organizations and allies in Canada to change policy around Canadian grain imports. Our panel discussion of the trade conflict redefined the debate for the Canadian Wheat Board.