Community Based CONSERVATION


The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) is a rancher-led, grassroots organization, dedicated to improving the quality of life for rural communities throughout the Northern Great Plains. Through collaborative conservation projects, rancher education events, and local community outreach, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance works to strengthen our rural community, economy, and culture for generations to come. 

Practicing Land Stewardship Today for Generations of Tomorrow.

Ranchers, by default, have always been and must continue to be true conservationists. At RSA, a core piece of our mission is to educate communities on how ranchers work WITH the land to ensure the viability of the ranching occupation for the future. We elevate stories of successful land stewardship which benefits the rancher, the wildlife, the land, and the entire ecosystem in which we live and work.

The Northern Great Plains is one of the most at-risk habitats in the world. Through conservation efforts like rehabilitating cropland to grassland, building wildlife-friendly fences, improving water infrastructure for pasture to maintain grazing ability, and more, we work to promote, and help implement, sustainable management practices that benefit not only the ranches, but also the wildlife, range, and environment.

Rural communities in the Northern Great Plains depend on the success of the surrounding ranching operations to continue to thrive. Improving the quality of life for people in these communities and enhancing the profitability of ranching is of the utmost importance. Through educational and outreach events, RSA works to keep communities connected and intertwined for the greater good.



Tradition, Trial, and Targeted Implementation Beneath wispy clouds set in a blindingly blue sky where Montana and Saskatchewan become indistinguishable from one another sits the Louie Petrie Ranch, an




Grasslands are the number one declining ecosystem globally, so conserving our portion of the Northern Great Plains and keeping it intact is not just an important part of our mission, but a goal for many of our national and even global conservation partners.


70% of land in the Northern Great Plains is set to change hands in the coming years. Ensuring that ranching is a viable industry and enticing the next generation to return is pivotal in maintaining these large swaths of conserved grasslands.


In 2003, 30 ranching families in Northern Montana anticipated these concerning statistics, acknowledged that they were too large to tackle alone, and came together to resolve problems they were facing and improve the ranching landscape for generations- and so the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) was born.


Improving the Quality of Life for communities, Ranchers, & Wildlife

Building Relationships and bringing people to the table



Ranch Improvements

In 2021, the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance’s Conservation Committee worked with 18 ranch families in Phillips, Blaine, and Valley Counties to help implement grazing land improvements aimed to increase the resiliency of their ranch business, our grasslands, and wildlife habitat. These projects included 4,500 acres of grazing habitat restored to native grasses, 192,595 feet of enhanced water pipeline laid, 60 miles of wildlife friendly fencing built, 5 new water wells, and 60 livestock tanks installed with bird escape ramps. 


Wildlife Benefits

Every conservation project implemented on a ranch has a substantial wildlife benefit as well.  Through fence removal and redesign, ease of passage for pronghorn has been improved across large tracts of some of the country’s main pronghorn migration paths. Preserving grassland and preventing conversion to cropland has also improved grassland bird habitat and resulted in significant abundance increases of Sprague’s Pipit, Chesnut-collared Longspur, and Baird’s Sparrow.  


Generational Land Transfer

Conserving these grasslands will require careful and intentional generational land transfers which require communication and complex legal and economic decisions, creating challenges for the typical family enterprise. That’s why, in many cases, planning for the successful transfer of the farm or ranch simply does not occur. Inheritance decisions can have emotional and economic consequences for both the ranching families and the environment. Through educational events, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is working to make this process easier for all involved.


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