Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT
Newspaper Page Text
A > CD Over-all view of some of the wet land in Montana that needs drainage. This picture was taken near Lowry, Mont. Weeds, willows and undesirable grasses *re the principal vegetation. ■' , ; • ■ ■ . V 70,000 Acres Salvaged Drainage Ditches Open New Frontier By TRUMAN C. ANDERSON , State Conservationist U . S. Soil Conservation Service *■ Sib « NEARLY 40,000 ACRES of land have been drained by systems built by farmers and ranchers in Montana soil conservation districts. This has involved 1,500,000 cubic yards of excavation. Sixteen thousand acres of the drainage was accomplished last year and SCS technicians are doing the technical work preparatory to drainage of some 30, 000 acres more, at the request of district co-operators. One of Montana's Biggest Jobs Significance of these figures is that they are a start on one of the biggest jobs Mon tana faces today. Here is what drainage has meant to some of the farmers and ranchers. Harvey Naslund near Chinook, co-oper ating with the Paradise soil conservation district, has a 35-acre irrigated field that in 1949 produced a good wheat crop, on land first drained in 1948. For the 10 previous years that he had been on the farm, he said, this field had produced only a little grass. It wasn't even fair pasture. Near Belgrade, Frank DeHaan, co-oper ating with the Three Rivers soil conserva tion district, is operating a good livestock enterprise on land that was swampy and produced only rushes and sedges until it was drained. His father, a farmer in the Holland settlement area, bought the land and, together with his neighbor, the Spain brothers, built the drainage ditch. Feed crops and high quality forage grasses are being seeded there now. Swamp io Hayland Six farmers along Crow creek near Tos ton, co-operating with the Broadwater county soil conservation district, teamed up to get rid of the excess water that kept the land soggy. This land was pastured some what, but hay could not be cut. The pasture is improving now with the natural increase MONTANA AND NORTHERN WYOMING in the better quality forage grasses, and the farmers are harvesting hay there, also. Three of them—George Rouser, Robert Barrington and Maurice Ferrot—now irri gate land with the drainage water. Roy Rammell near Fort Shaw, a co-oper ator with the Sun river soil conservation district, has 300 irrigated acres that now produce good yields of potatoes and other crops where previously he could grow little, A relatively shallow ditch along the lower side of the and has lowered the water table enough to reclaim this land. Soil conserva tion service technicians helped plan the drainage, and the reclamation service helped build it. Drain to Irrigate Having to drain land in order to be able to irrigate it may seem a paradox to many people. But ,the fact remains that even in this low-rainfall country, where irrigation is practiced, the ground water level is so high in many places that only sedges and other low quality vegetation can grow. Be sides this, a high water table often brings salts to the surface. Not all wet lands are suited for drainage. Some cannot be drained, and some are too poor to justify the expense. The drained lands and nearly all that are classed as suited for drainage are potentially of high quality. Some are wet because of natural sepage from higher land to stream courses, particularly from the mountains. Others suffer the consequences of over-irrigation or seepage from irrigation canals. On many, there is a conbination of the natural and man-made causes. In still other instances, stream over-flow causes the trouble. Requirements Vary Deep drains are required to lower the water table at some places, but at others, surface drainage alone will meet the situa (Please turn to page 20) tion. Some i-sms & M 4 —Photo by Soli Conservation Service Cause and result. The slough in the upper picture rises and lowers with the water table. At the time this photo was taken in June, 1949, the water table was near the surface; lest wells in the area con firmed what the slough showed. The lower picture shows a few remaining alfalfa plants on what is described as having been a good field of alfalfa. The high water table has caused nearly all of the plants to die. This picture was taken on Pease Bot tom near Hysham, Mont« in the Treasure county soil conservation district. m 'i ♦ " 5 ■ d ¥■ TV s# » * *1 Two views taken June 30, 1949, at the Harvey Nas lund place near Chinook. The wheat in the top picture is on a field where the drainage system was built in 1948. Previously during, the 10 years he had lived on the farm, Naslund said, this land was so seeped that it produced only a little grass—"it wasn't even fair pasture." The banks of the main drain can be seen in the background. The lower picture shows the main drain, which is separated from Naslund's land only by the width of the road. Naslund is co-operating with the Paradise soil con servation district.