36.1.101 ORGANIZATION OF DEPARTMENT
(1) History and Purpose. The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation was established under the Executive Reorganization Act of 1971 by executive order of the Governor on December 20, 1971. It was extensively reorganized by the 1995 Legislature and is provided for in 2-15-3301, MCA. Its mission is to help ensure Montana's land and water resources provide benefits for present and future generations. The department directs a wide variety of programs in meeting these and related goals and objectives.
(2) Organization. The department is headed by the director, who is appointed by the Governor. Within the Director's Office are a deputy director and a chief of staff, who report to the director, and five work units: Financial Services Office; Human Resources Office; Legal Services Office; Office of Administrative Hearings, and Office of Information Technology. The five work units and the public information officer, safety officer, and records manager report to the chief of staff. The rest of the department is divided into five divisions, each of which is headed by an administrator who reports to the deputy director. The divisions are divided into bureaus, programs, or sections; headed by chiefs, managers, and supervisors; with some programs administered by regional or area office staff. Two boards are attached to the department for administrative purposes only as provided in 2-15-3303 and 2-15-3307, MCA. The Board of Land Commissioners appears in these rules because it has authority under Title 77, chapter 1, part 2, MCA, to administer state trust lands and the funds arising from the leasing, use, sale, and disposition of those lands. All three boards exercise rulemaking and adjudicatory functions. Six attached advisory councils, commissions, and committees advise the department but exercise no rulemaking authority.
(3) Department Organizational Units. The organizational structure and allocation of functions is as follows. The various boards, commissions, and advisory councils are also listed, as they are units of the department, pursuant to 2-15-102, MCA.
(a) Director's Office. The director is responsible for the administration of all the functions vested by law in the department and for establishing policy to be followed by the department. In addition, the Director's Office provides legal, human resources, financial, information technology, records management, administrative hearings, safety, and communication services to the director and the divisions within the agency.
(b) Conservation and Resource Development Division. The division provides administrative, financial, technical, and legal assistance to the state's 58 soil and water conservation districts in their efforts to protect the state's natural resources. The division staffs the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program for the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team (MSGOT) attached to the Governor's Office and five agencies administratively attached to the division. The division also administers several grant and loan programs which assist communities and local governments to benefit natural resources.
(i) Office of Conservation Finance. This office administers the Resource Development Bureau, prepares and manages the cash flow of all division programs, issues loans to local governments for water and wastewater infrastructure improvement through fiscal administration of the Water Pollution Control State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan programs, Renewable Resource loan program, and the Treasure State Endowment Regional Water program.
(ii) Resource Development Bureau. This bureau administers several grant programs that assist communities and local governments to improve, protect, enhance, or develop renewable resources or that otherwise benefit natural resources through reclamation, planning, research, and education. This bureau also assists the conservation districts in the administration of water reservations to ensure the quality of public resources.
(iii) Conservation Districts Bureau. This bureau is responsible for providing administrative, financial, technical, and legal guidance and assistance to conservation districts in their work to encourage proper land use practices. The conservation districts establish programs to prevent soil erosion, minimize saline seep, control noxious weeds, maintain water quality, prevent floodwater and sediment damage, assist rural economic development, provide watershed and rangeland management, and assist with development, use, and disposal of water. The bureau also provides grants to qualified conservation districts; and awards loans and grants for projects that develop, maintain, or improve water and other renewable resources.
(iv) Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program. This program performs the duties assigned to the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team in the Montana Greater Sage-Grouse Stewardship Act and Executive Orders 10-2014, 12-2015, and 21-2015.
(v) Administrative Attachments. Staff reporting to the administrator perform the duties assigned to the Montana Invasive Species Council, Flathead Basin Commission, Upper Columbia Conservation Commission, Rangeland Resources Committee, and Grass Conservation Commission.
(c) Forestry Division. This division is responsible for ensuring the sustainability and protection of Montana forests, rural lands, and communities through cooperative wildland fire protection, sound forest management practices, and by promoting a viable forest-based economy.
(i) Forestry Division Office. This office oversees, manages, and develops Forestry Division budget, accounting, contracting, grant, fiscal and facility management activities; sets and administers policy concerning fire suppression financial operating and contracting procedures and fire incident business management procedures; and administers division human resource activities.
(ii) Fire Protection Bureau. This bureau protects lives, property, and natural resources from wildfire by providing safe and effective services to Montana's citizens, as well as leadership, coordination, and resources to the state's wildfire organizations. To the extent possible, the bureau embraces effective wildfire response, fire adapted communities, and resilient landscapes.
(iii) Forestry Assistance Bureau. This bureau promotes the implementation of the Montana Forest Action Plan: working across boundaries building resilient forests, sustainable economies, and fire-adapted communities. This program also connects landowners with technical guidance and cost-share programs to actively manage forests, provides seedlings for conservation projects statewide, and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Streamside Management Zone Law, Timber Slash and Debris Law, and the Forest Practice Notification Law on non-federal lands.
(iv) Good Neighbor Authority Bureau. This bureau is organized around the existing federal Good Neighbor Authority, to increase forest restoration and management, and address forest health and resiliency, wildfire risk, and insect and disease infected forests through active management. This is accomplished through partnerships with federal land management agencies, conservation organizations and collaboratives. In addition to improving forest health and reducing wildfire risk, these efforts provide a consistent commercial timber volume, retain forest industry jobs, and improve wildlife habit and recreation opportunities on federal lands.
(v) Shared Stewardship Program. This program engages with a diverse group of partners to respond to the United States Forest Service Shared Stewardship Strategy, which calls for the state to take a lead role in convening stakeholders to set priorities across broad forested landscapes.
(d) Trust Land Management Division. This division is responsible for managing the surface and mineral resources of forested, grazing, agricultural, and other classified state trust lands to produce revenue for the benefit of state public schools and other endowed institutions.
(i) Agriculture and Grazing Bureau. This bureau is responsible for leasing and managing surface leasing for crop and rangeland uses on state trust lands throughout the state.
(ii) Forest Management Bureau. This bureau manages forested trust lands to maximize long-term revenue while promoting healthy and diverse forests. Revenues are derived mainly from the sale of forest products. Several resource management sections provide support and program direction by developing resource management standards; conducting site-specific reviews; and formulating recommendations as members of interdisciplinary teams that develop land management proposals.
(iii) Minerals Management Bureau. This bureau is responsible for leasing, permitting, and managing state-owned minerals. These duties include oil and gas, metalliferous and non-metalliferous, coal, and sand and gravel agreements on trust and other state-owned land. The bureau contains a royalty auditing and accounting section.
(iv) Real Estate Management Bureau. This bureau is responsible for all activity on state trust lands not classified as grazing, agriculture, or timber. This includes commercial and residential leasing, short-term licenses, land exchanges and sales, and right-of-way agreements.
(v) Recreational Use & Public Access Program. This program works with all surface bureaus and area offices in overseeing and coordinating public access and recreational uses of state trust lands.
(e) Water Resources Division. This division promotes and coordinates the beneficial use, conservation, protection, and development of state water resources. Through coordination of the development and utilization of the state's water, the division protects existing uses and promotes adequate future supplies for domestic, industrial, agricultural, and recreational uses, as well as for the conservation of water for wildlife, aquatic life, and other beneficial uses.
(i) State Water Projects Bureau. This bureau administers the operation and maintenance of state-owned water projects which include dams, irrigation canals, and a hydropower facility. The bureau also assists the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks with their dam safety issues.
(ii) Water Adjudication Bureau. This bureau assists the Montana Water Court in the adjudication of all claims to pre-July 1, 1973, water rights. The bureau examines all claims pursuant to Supreme Court rules and provides a summary report to the Water Court on each of the basins in the state. The bureau also provides post decree assistance to the Water Court as requested and to district courts as Water Court decrees are placed under enforcement.
(iii) Water Management Bureau. This bureau develops and analyzes policies on statewide water resource issues and represents Montana's basin interests regionally and internationally. The bureau also provides education, assistance, and outreach for the public, department, and other governmental entities.
(iv) Water Operations Bureau. This bureau administers the Board of Water Well Contractors, regulates dam safety, assists locally administered floodplain management programs, and provides technical information and water measurement requirements regarding stream diversion where chronic dewatering has caused disputes.
(v) Water Rights Bureau. This bureau assures the orderly appropriation and beneficial use of Montana's waters through administration of the Montana Water Use Act, Title 85, chapter 2, MCA.
(vi) Compact Implementation Program. This unit represents Montana's interests with respect to reserved water right compacts between the State of Montana, tribal nations, and the federal government and is responsible for leading the implementations of the individual compacts.
(f) Field Operations.
(i) Conservation and Resource Development Division Field Offices. The division has four field offices in Missoula, Glasgow, Miles City, and Bozeman. The staff at Miles City report to the Conservation District Bureau chief. The staff at Glasgow report to the Resource Development Bureau chief. The staff at Missoula and Bozeman report to the division administrator.
(ii) Trust Land Management Division and Forestry Division Area and Unit Offices. These divisions have six joint area offices: Central Land Office (Helena); Eastern Land Office (Miles City); Northeastern Land Office (Lewistown); Northwestern Land Office (Kalispell); Southern Land Office (Billings); and Southwestern Land Office (Missoula). The managers report jointly to the division administrators of the Trust Land Management and Forestry divisions and are responsible for integrating and implementing the programs of those divisions. Area offices have associated unit offices whose managers report to the appropriate area manager.
(iii) Water Resources Division Regional Offices. This division has eight field offices in Billings, Bozeman, Glasgow, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, and Missoula. The managers report to the deputy division administrator and are responsible for integrating and implementing the programs of the Water Resources Division.
(i) Board of Land Commissioners. Under the Constitution and statute, the department's administration of state trust lands in Montana is subject to review and approval by the board. Under the direction of the board, the director is responsible for the administration of state trust lands management functions vested in the department under the Trust Land Management Division. The board has rulemaking authority.
(ii) Board of Oil and Gas Conservation. This board consists of seven members appointed by the Governor to four-year terms. The board is attached to the department for administrative purposes only. Responsibilities include promoting conservation of oil and gas; preventing waste, contamination, and damage to land and underground strata from oil and gas activities; establishing well spacing units and protecting the correlative rights of mineral owners; and, subject to approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, regulating all Class II injection wells. The board has rulemaking authority.
(iii) Board of Water Well Contractors. This board consists of five members and is attached to the department for administrative purposes under the Water Resources Division. Three of the members are appointed by the directors of their respective agencies for indefinite terms, and two Governor-appointed members represent the water well industry. The board adopts administrative rules regulating licenses and establishing minimum construction standards for water wells and monitoring wells; inspects wells upon request or complaint, and at other times as deemed necessary; and licenses well drillers, contractors, and monitoring well constructors.
(h) Commissions, Committees, and Advisory Councils.
(i) Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee - Stream Gauge Oversight Work Group. This committee is chaired by the Governor's representative and consists of members appointed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Department of Agriculture, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Military Affairs, Department of Environmental Quality, and Department of Livestock, pursuant to 2-15-3308, MCA. Its purpose is to serve as a clearinghouse for the sharing of water supply and moisture conditions among state and local agency officials with responsibility to manage natural resources and support constituents most likely affected by drought. The function of the work group is to annually create a stream gauge infrastructure work plan.
(ii) Flathead Basin Commission. This commission consists of members appointed as described in 2-15-3330, MCA. Its purpose is to protect the existing high quality of the Flathead Lake aquatic environment; the waters that flow into, out of, or are tributary to the lake; and the natural resources and environment of the Flathead Basin.
(iii) Montana Grass Conservation Commission. This commission is a Governor-appointed board as described in 76-16-112, MCA, whose mission is to conserve, protect, restore, and facilitate the proper utilization of grass, forage, and range resources in the state by organizing and administering the state grazing districts and by promoting cooperation between the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the state districts.
(iv) Rangeland Resource Committee. This committee is composed of ranchers located across the state and appointed by the Governor pursuant to 2-15-3305, MCA. The committee provides guidance to the Rangeland Resources Program in the Conservation and Resource Development Division.
(v) Montana Invasive Species Council. This council consists of members appointed by the Governor as described in 2-15-3309, MCA. The purpose of the council is to advise the Governor on a science-based, comprehensive program to identify, prevent, eliminate, reduce, and mitigate invasive species in Montana and to coordinate with public and private partners to develop and implement statewide invasive species strategic plans.
(vi) Upper Columbia Conservation Commission. This commission consists of members appointed by the Governor as described in 2-15-3310, MCA. The purpose of the commission is to protect the aquatic environment in tributaries to the Columbia River from the threat of aquatic invasive species.
(4) Information and submissions. General inquiries regarding the department, boards, commission, or advisory councils may be addressed to the director or e-mailed to email@example.com. Specific inquiries regarding the functions of a division may be addressed to the division administrator. All requests for department policy, hearings, declaratory rulings, and participation in rulemaking should be addressed to the director unless the notice in the Montana Administrative Register makes specific provisions for submissions.
(5) Personnel Roster. The director, deputy director, chief of staff, and division administrators for Conservation and Resource Development and Trust Lands Management can be contacted at 1539 11th Avenue, Helena, Montana 59620; phone 406-444-2074; fax 406-444-2684. The division administrator for Water Resources can be contacted at 1424 Ninth Avenue, Helena, Montana; phone 406-444-6601; fax 406-444-0533. The division administrator for Forestry can be contacted at 2705 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT 59804; phone 406-542-4300; fax 406-542-4217. The division administrator for the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation can be contacted at 2535 St. Johns Avenue, Billings, Montana 59102; phone 406-656-0040; fax 406-655-6015. Information regarding the department and its personnel can also be found at http://dnrc.mt.gov/.
(6) Charts of Agency Organization. Organizational charts of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation are attached on the following pages and are incorporated into this rule.
Board of Oil and Gas Conservation
Conservation and Resource Development Division
Trust Land Management Division
Water Resources Division
History: 2-4-201, MCA; IMP, 2-4-201, MCA; Eff. 12/31/72; AMD, Eff. 7/5/73; AMD, Eff. 4/15/74; AMD, Eff. 12/5/74; AMD, Eff. 10/5/75; AMD, Eff. 10/24/77; AMD, Eff. 7/27/78; AMD, Eff. 7/2/79; AMD, Eff. 3/31/80; AMD, Eff. 7/1/81; AMD, Eff. 4/82; AMD, Eff. 9/30/88; AMD, Eff. 9/30/90; AMD, Eff. 7/1/95; AMD, Eff. 6/30/12; AMD, Eff. 6/30/13; AMD, Eff. 9/30/20.