Prairie county, montana

Table C.4 Prairie County Transfer Payments, 1970-2000

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Table C.4 Prairie County Transfer Payments, 1970-2000

(In thousands of 2000 dollars)





Total transfer payments





Government payments to individuals





Retirement & disability insurance benefit payments





Medical payments





Income maintenance benefit payments





Unemployment insurance benefit payments





Veterans benefit payments





Fed ed. & train assist. payments (excludes vets)





Other payments to individuals





Payments to nonprofit institutions





Business payments to individuals 12/





(L) Less than $50,000 actual dollars not adjusted for inflation.

12/Consists largely of personal injury payments to individuals other than employees and other business transfer payments.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Table CA 35.
Total Personal Income
Total personal income includes net earnings by place of residence; dividends, interest and rent; and personal current transfer receipts received by the residents of Prairie County. It is the income received by all persons from all sources.
Figure C.4 compares total personal income from labor and income from dividends, interest, rent and transfer payments from 1970 to 2000. During the 1970’s, income from labor sources was significantly more profitable in Prairie County than income derived from dividends, interest, rent and transfer payments. During the 1980’s the opposite was true. During the previous decade, the major income components of labor, interest, rent plus transfer payments has leveled off and is relatively close in received income payments.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Table CA05.
Personal income is defined as income received by residents, but labor income is mainly reported by place of work, rather than residence of employee. The Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates how much money is earned in the county by people residing outside the county and it calculates how much money is brought into the county by residents who work outside of the county. Subtracting one from the other gives the net residence adjustment. Figure C.5 displays net flows of earned income for the years 1970-2000. Adjusted for inflation, net flows have steadily decreased over time, clearly peaking in the early 1970s when approximately $27.5 million was earned outside of the county. Today, approximately $3.7 million less money has been earned from sources outside of the county than in 1970.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Table CA05.
Per Capita Personal Income
In 2003, Prairie County had a per capita personal income of $22,284. Prairie County ranked 28th in the state in per capita personal income in 2003. In 1993, Prairie County ranked 24th in the State for per capita personal income, indicating a decline in the past decade in per capita personal income compared to other counties in the state.
Table C.6 A Comparison of Per Capita Personal Income in Eastern Montana


Custer County



Fallon County

Garfield County

McCone County

Prairie County

Wibaux County

Per Capita personal income








Rank (in state)








Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Table C.7 Per Capita Personal Income

Prairie County







Per capita personal income





Average annual growth rate






Rank (in state)





Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Figure C.6 compares per capita income for Prairie County and Montana between 1970 and 2000. Per capita income is total personal income divided by total population.
During the early 1970’s, per capita income in Prairie County exceeded per capita income in the state by approximately $1,400 per year. During the early to mid-1980’s, per capita income in Prairie County lagged behind statewide per capita income by almost $2,000 per year. Per capita income in Prairie County was about $1,000 lower than the statewide per capita income until 1992 when Prairie County had a per capita income $259 higher than the statewide per capita income. During the remainder of the 1990’s, Prairie County made an average of $750 less a year than the rest of the state. In 2000, per capita income in Prairie County was $21,253 and in Montana was $22,929. Montana’s per capita personal income was 18.5% below the United States average in 2004.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Table CA30.
Average earnings from labor have been lower in Prairie County than the State of Montana since the mid-1970’s. Average earnings per job peaked in 1974 at $31,367 (adjusted for inflation). In 2000, average earnings per job in Prairie County were $17,970 and average earnings per job in Montana was $25,616.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Table CA30.
Median Household and Family Income
The median household income in Prairie County in 2000 was $25,451, compared to a median household income in Montana of $33,024.
Table C.8 Median Income, Prairie County and Montana, 1980-2000

(In 2000 Dollars)

Prairie County




Prairie Co.


**Prairie Co.


Median Household Income





Median Family Income





Per Capita Income





Sources: 1980 and 1990 summary tape files 3, U.S. Census 2000; Summary File 3, Table P53.


  1. Income figures for “1980” are actually for 1979 and have been converted to 1989 dollars using CPI inflation factor of 1.708.

Table C.9 Prairie County Household Income 2000

Prairie County



Less thank $10,000


$10,000 to $14,999


$15,000 to $19,999


$20,000 to $24,999


$25,000 to $29,999


$30,000 to $34,999


$35,000 to $39,999


$40,000 to 44,999


$45,000 to $49,999


$50,000 to $59,999


$60,000 to $74,999


$75,000 to $99,999


$100,000 to $124,999


$125,000 to 149,999


$150,000 to $199,999


$200,000 or more


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000
Table C.10 Median Household Income by Age of Householder, 2000

Householder under 25 years


Householder 25 to 34 years


Householder 35 to 44 years


Householder 45-54 years


Householder 55 to 64 years


Householder 65 to 74 years


Householder 75 years and older


Source: U.S. Census Bureau SF3
Commuter Data
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, ninety-three (93) people reported Prairie County as their residence and worked in another state or county. The following table lists the details of this report. Figures are based on 569 workers.
Table C.11 Commuter Data

Residence State-County Name

Workplace State-County Name

# of Workers 16 years and over in the commuter flow

Prairie County

Palo Alto, CA. IA


Prairie County

Custer County. MT


Prairie County

Dawson County. MT


Prairie County

Fergus County. MT


Prairie County

McCone County. MT


Prairie County

Prairie County. MT


Prairie County

Richland County. MT


Prairie County

Yellowstone County. MT


Prairie County

Grand Forks County. ND


Prairie County

King County. WA




Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Journey-to-Work & Migration Statistics Branch. Internet Released date, March 6, 2003.
In 2004, approximately 15 percent of the Prairie County population traveled to a different county for work. Montana Counties traveled to include: Custer, Dawson, Fergus, McCone, Richland and Yellowstone. Information about workers traveling to Prairie County for work from other counties is displayed in Table C.12.

Table C.12 Commuters to Prairie County, 2004

Residence County/State

Workplace County/State


Custer County, MT

Prairie County


Dawson County, MT

Prairie County


McCone County, MT

Prairie County


Prairie County, MT

Prairie County


Wibaux County, MT

Prairie County


Morton County, ND

Prairie County


Approximately eighty (80) people travel to Prairie County for employment (7%).
Table C.13 displays commuter data from 1970-2000.
Table C.13 Commuter Data 1970-2000





Total Number of Commuters





Live and work in Prairie County





Live in Prairie County and work in a different county.





Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Economic Information System. Journey To Work.
Poverty Level
Census 2000 data indicates that approximately 17% of the population in Prairie County is living below the poverty level. Poverty is measured by using 48 income thresholds that vary by family size and number of children within the family and age of the householder. To determine whether a person is poor, one compares the total income of that person’s family with the threshold appropriate for that family. If the total family income is less than the threshold, then the person is considered poor, together with every member of his or her family.
Table C.14 Poverty levels, 1980-2000







Persons below poverty







Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Farm Economics
Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold
Figure C.8 Prairie County Market Value & % of Farms


In 1997, almost 20% of farms in Prairie County received half a percent of the market value of the agriculture products sold and 2.5 % of farms received almost 30% of the market value.

Figure C.9 Montana Market Value & % of Farms


Total Agriculture Government Payments to Individuals and Corporate Farms
According to the Montana Department of Agriculture and Economic Research Service, the total agricultural government payments made to individuals and corporate farms in Prairie County in 2003 was $4,499,000. This is based on information gathered on major and minor cash receipts. In 2003, Montana farmers received payments under the Acreage Grazing Payment Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Crop Disaster Assistance Program, Direct and County-cyclical Program payments, Emergency Conservation Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Hard White Winter Wheat Program, Interest Payments, Lamb Meat Adjustment Assistance Program, Livestock Compensation Program, Livestock Emergency Assistance Program, Loan Deficiency Payment Program, Marketing Loan Gains, Milk Income Loss Contract Program, noninsured Assistance Program, Quality Losses Program, Soil/Water Conservation Assistance Program, Sugar Beet Disaster Program, Wool and Mohair Livestock Assistance Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Great Plains Program, Forestry Incentive Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Farmland Protection Program. Table C.15 displays government payments in Prairie County for the previous nine years. This is the most recent information available.
Table C.15 Total Government Payments in Prairie County, 1995-2003

(in millions)










Prairie County










Source: MT Dept of Agriculture
Conclusions & Projected Trends
Prairie County’s history is rooted in livestock production and agriculture production. Business owners and agriculture producers struggle to find an available labor force and must rely more heavily on technology for assistance. High energy costs, high shipping costs and an aging population are all issues facing business owners and agriculture producers. As the number of farmed acres in the county drops, farm suppliers also go out of business.
On the positive side, tourism, recreation and hunting offer opportunities for expansion in Prairie County.

The following issues, goals and objectives have been identified by the PCLPB:
Issue: The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has idled 25% of Prairie County’s farmland. This creates a significant void in the counties economic business and especially farming and ranching opportunities for young people getting started in agriculture.
16.) Goal: To have more economic activity on lands currently in CRP.

16a.) Encourage all government agencies to allow as much agricultural activity as possible on lands that are now enrolled in the CRP.
16b.) Limit number of acres in CRP, ensuring the current cap of 25% of farmland enrolled is not exceeded.
16c.) Reduce competition within the private sector between irrigated hay production and hay produced from CRP acres.
Issue: Water rights currently in use and water reserved for future use by agriculture and business are extremely important to Prairie County’s future growth.
17.) Goal: Keep as much water available for Prairie County users as possible.

17a.) Prairie County will zealously guard the current water rights and reservations especially the Conservation District’s water reservations.
18.) Goal: Ensure safe, clean water for the residents of Prairie County.
18b.) Prairie County recognizes the importance of safe, clean water for residents, livestock and agriculture producers. PCLPB encourages the County Commissioners to stay abreast on water quality issues to ensure water quality remains safe for Prairie County residents.
Issue: Currently some U.S. Government and State of Montana agencies who oversee the use of State and Federal lands make decisions about land use in Prairie County that are very detrimental to sustain and even grow our local economy and provide jobs and incomes for Prairie County’s residents.
19.) Goal: Strongly encourage State and Federal Governments to carefully consider the impact of their decisions on local economies.


19a.) Prairie County recognizes that the BLM owns approximately 55% of the minerals in Prairie County. Prairie County encourages them to be cooperative with groups planning to develop these minerals.
19b.) Prairie County recognizes that the BLM owns approximately 41% of surface land in Prairie County. Prairie County strongly encourages BLM to acknowledge and try to prevent the loss of grazing privileges. During natural disasters, such as fire and drought, BLM should be as flexible as possible on grazing plans during and after natural disasters. BLM’s current policy of waiting two full years after a fire to graze land is unnecessary and unnatural. BLM should manage grazing allotments on a case by case basis and not a blanket inflexible policy that does not take into account differing individual allotment, geography, history and grazing histories.
Issue: More intensive animal agriculture can generate many jobs and much investment.
20.) Goal: Help feedlots and other value-added agricultural enterprises remain here or establish in Prairie County.

20a.) Prairie County needs to put as few roadblocks as possible so as not to hinder the development of more intensive, value-added agriculture in Prairie County.
21.) Goal: Encourage wise placement of feedlots and other value-added agricultural enterprises.

21a.) Maintain adequate environmental and sanitary concerns.
22.) Goal: Promote the continuation of a sustainable industrial/business climate by providing economic opportunity.


22a.) Attract new businesses to County

22b.) Support expansion of current businesses
Issue: Availability and cost of labor/hired help.
23.) Goal: Encourage a mix of employment opportunities that will lessen the impact of high unemployment because of the seasonal nature of agricultural and recreation industries.
24.) Goal: Prairie County shall promote recreational and cultural opportunities compatible with local customs and cultures with the constraints of private property rights and local self-determination.
25.) Goal: Strengthen Prairie County’s economy by supporting industries/initiatives that increase residents’ personal income and employment opportunities.

25a.) Support agriculture. Focus on new opportunities in the agricultural sector.

25b.) Support an expanded, more vital tourism and recreation industry and promote the development of tourism and recreation opportunities to broaden Prairie County’s economic base.

25c.) Review all incentives to attract business and encourage as necessary.

25d.) Coordinate business recruitment and expansion efforts with the State of Montana and other entities working actively in economic development.

25e.) To make the most effective use of limited finances available to recruit and help existing businesses expand, coordinate closely with Chambers of Commerce in Prairie County and other entities working in economic development to promote Prairie County as a place to do business.

25f.) Support economic development activities throughout southeastern Montana in recognition of Prairie County’s interdependency with surrounding employment centers and needs of citizens for goods, services and other amenities available in surrounding communities.

25g.) Promote the economic self-sufficiency of Prairie County citizens by furthering the development of locally owned and operated business enterprises.
Prairie County was developed in a rural area, primarily along the railroad and Yellowstone River. The distribution of population clusters center mainly in the incorporated Town of Terry and unincorporated areas of Fallon. Local services include operations in the County such as Law Enforcement, Disaster and Emergency Services, Fire protection, Ambulance services, and health care. The following information provides an overview of existing public facilities and local services in Prairie County.
Local Government
Prairie County has a commission form of government with general powers, seated in Terry. County government consists of a three-member commission. Each commissioner represents one of three districts in the county, serves a six-year term, and is elected by the electors in the county. Terms are staggered. The commission elects a chair from its members. In addition to the commission, there are seven other county officials: Attorney; Clerk and Recorder/Clerk of District Court, Coroner, Justice of the Peace, Public Administrator, Sheriff/Assessor, and Treasurer/School Superintendent of Schools.

Figure D.1--Revenue by Source--Government activities

Source: Prairie County Clerk and Recorder
Prairie County relies primarily on property taxes to fund County operations.
For the fiscal year ending June 2005, Prairie County received $266,195 from the Federal Government and $409,989 from the State of Montana in entitlements, grants, and general revenues.
Figure D.2--Expense by Source--Government activities

Source: Prairie County Clerk and Recorder
Prairie County’s largest expenses include Public Works (road, bridge, weed operations) and funding General Government (commissioners, attorney, clerk and recorder, treasurer, justice of the peace, building maintenance, etc.)

Table D.1 compares programs revenue and expenses for fiscal year 2005.

Table D.1 Prairie County Program Revenue and Expenses, 2005

Program Revenue


General Government (includes elected officials; building operations/repairs)



Public Safety (includes fire, law enforcement and emergency services)



Public Works (includes road, bridge, weed control)



Public Health (includes Public Health Nurse; Hospital, Clinic and nursing home)



Social and Economic Services (includes services to the aging and extension services)



Culture and Recreation (includes library, museum, fair)






Source: Prairie County Clerk and Recorder
The net cost to Prairie County taxpayers to fund general government in fiscal year 2005 was $338,590; public safety $115,997; and Public Works $239,045.
Figure D.3 Expenses and Program Revenues, 2005

The County Commissioners set the direction of the County and the allocation of resources through an annual budget. The annual budget assures the efficient, effective, and economic uses of the County’s resources, as well as establishing that projects and goals are carried out according to prioritized planning. The following factors were considered in preparing the budget for the 2005 fiscal year:

  • Some major capital improvement projects including county building maintenance must be done;

  • Road equipment continues to deteriorate and needs to be updated

  • Taxable value of the County continues to decrease;

  • Even though the State of Montana has, for now, solved its budget deficit, the County expects that local governments will still need to provide some services typically provided by the State;

  • Road maintenance continues to be a frequent concern of citizens, and the road budget, including personnel expenses, is at its maximum levying authority.

As the County enters fiscal year 2005, it is in a solid financial position overall. Most reserves are at the maximum level allowed by law, insuring adequate cash flow throughout the year. The County is committed to maintaining long-term Capital Improvements Plan, with a primary function of protecting and replacing infrastructure and equipment. The commissioners continue with the permissive medical levy to assist in financing employee health benefits.

In summary, Prairie County continues to maintain services at a level necessary to serve its citizens, while keeping individual taxes at a minimum. In fiscal year 2002, a property valued at $100,000 required an annual investment of $465.54, while fiscal year 2003 required an investment for the same property of $544.53. Fiscal year 2004 required an investment of $571.00 on the $100,000 property and fiscal year 2005 required an investment of $610.32.
PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes)
Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments are Federal payments to local governments to offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries. Prairie County has 429,486 acres of land that is eligible for PILT. Calculation of PILT payments is based on population numbers in the county. The law sets up a sliding scale of maximum PILT payments that may be made to each county based on population. In 2005, Prairie County received $84,984 as payment in lieu of taxes on approximately 429,486 acres of land. The current allocation of PILT payments is a drain on the County treasury. If this land were taxed as private land, it would bring County revenues of approximately $171,795 to $257,692.
In addition, Prairie County receives 25% of grazing receipts and rental fees on federal owned land designated as Bankhead Jones land. The total amount Prairie County received in 2005 for Bankhead Jones Land equaled $27,792.60. This money is put into the Prairie County Road Fund.
Taylor Grazing Land funds received in 2005 equaled $2,516.82 and is used in the County’s General Fund. This loss of tax base and tax revenue seriously hinders the County’s ability to provide services.

Prairie County is served by three main means of transportation, namely, the Burlington Northern Railroad, Interstate Highway 94, and a public airport, which can accommodate the landing of small planes. There are several secondary roads to surrounding towns.
Roads & Highways
Interstate 94 is the primary road system crossing Prairie County in an east-west direction. This highway is located along the Town’s southern border. Old Highway 10 runs adjacent to I-94; HHighway 253 provides access to Terry from the North and joins Highway 200 at Brockway. Highway 340 connects the towns of Terry, Mildred, and Fallon.
The County has an extensive network of local roads that are under the jurisdiction of the Prairie County Road Department. Maintaining the roads is a formidable undertaking and one that is of primary importance to farm and ranch residents. Well-maintained roads provide essential public services during times of severe weather. Maintenance is assigned to the Prairie County Road Department.
The Prairie County Road Department employs five employees that are responsible for maintaining approximately 750 miles of state secondary highways and gravel roads in the County. In addition to road maintenance, the Prairie County Road Department is responsible for all signs in the county, maintaining cattle guards, culvert upkeep, and mowing roughly 700 miles along County roads. There are also ten (10) bridges in the County that the Prairie County Road Department is responsible for keeping in good condition. There are approximately 10 gravel sites in the County that are registered with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Bureau of Land Management. The Department of Environmental Quality requires the County to register gravel pits that are located on deeded land. Gravel pits registered with the Bureau of Land Management are on BLM land.
Rail Transportation
Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) crosses Prairie County in an east-west direction along the south side of the Yellowstone River. The railroad owns approximately 11,000 acres in Prairie County (1%). The railroad primarily ships dry edible beans out of Prairie County on the railway and the Farmer’s Union accepts freight shipments of fertilizer, etc. The bulk of freight transported on the railway is coal. The nearest grain terminal for unit trains is located in Glendive. The railroad is responsible for maintaining crossings in the county.
See Appendix Map 2: Montana Rail System

Air Transportation
Prairie County has a public airstrip located one mile south of Terry. The airport runway is hard-surfaced and has been re-asphalted in the previous three years. The airstrip is approximately 4,450 feet long. There is a lighted runway that can be turned on either through a radio frequency or manually. There are also tie-downs available at the airport for the safety of visiting aircraft.
Big Sky Airlines serves the area with commuter service in Miles City and Glendive (both 38 miles from Terry). Commercial air carrier service is available in Miles City, Glendive, and Billings. Commercial air transportation is available in Billings (175 miles west of Terry) and Dickinson, ND (125 miles east of Terry).
Currently, there are no taxes levied to Prairie County residents for the airport.
Recreation Sites and Facilities
Prairie County has two rivers and numerous streams that comprise a major surface water resource that is used for fishing during the spring, summer, and fall months. The terrain in the County contains resources that are routinely used for some of the best hunting in the state.
Prairie County includes approximately 503,267 acres of land that is owned by the Federal and State government. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages approximately 447,462 acres of land in Prairie County and recreational use is governed by those agencies.
A Wilderness Study Area made up of almost 43,000 acres is located north of Terry. There are camping facilities at Scenic View, just northwest of Terry, which includes a fire pit area and restroom facilities.
Clark Reservoir has a campground and fishing access area.
Public Schools
Education is a priority in Prairie County. Our county’s support of both curricular and extra curricular activities offers proof that education is important to us. The school system in Prairie County is centered in Terry and provides education for students from all areas of the County. During the 2004-05 school year, there were sixteen full-time teachers and two part-time teachers. Terry Public Schools has a student/teacher ratio averaging six students per teacher. The Terry Public Schools currently has the facilities to handle an increase in enrollment of approximately 75-100 additional students. The school’s financial circumstances are determined by the number of students enrolled.
Figure D1

Source: Terry Public Schools
In 2004-05, there were six students reported as home schooled in Prairie County.
Over 50% of Prairie County rural property taxes go to fund the public school.
Prairie County has one weekly newspaper, the Terry Tribune, which started in 1907. Five AM and three FM radio stations can be received in the Prairie County area. Rural homes can select from satellite networks, such as Dish Network and Direct TV. Midrivers, a local co-op, and Qwest provide telephone service to Prairie County. Midrivers Cooperative offers dial-up, cable, and satellite high-speed Internet services throughout the Prairie County area.
Law Enforcemen/Disaster Emergency Services
The County Sheriff provides Law enforcement services in Prairie County. In addition to the Sheriff, the county employs an Undersheriff and a Deputy. The 911-dispatch system is operated through a contract with Fallon County (Baker). Jail functions are provided in cooperation with the Dawson County Law Enforcement Agency.
Prairie County Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) is responsible for the development, establishment, and coordination of a countywide program for response to emergency situations. Prairie County recently completed a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan. The Prairie County Offices of Law Enforcement and Disaster and Emergency Services update Fallon County about emergency response information and maintain the County ambulance service. The Sheriff handles search and Rescue.

Fire Protection
Prairie County has four Fire Departments: the Prairie County Rural Fire Department, the Terry Volunteer Fire Department, Cabin Creek Fire District, and the Fallon Fire District.
Outside Terry City limits, the Prairie County Rural Fire Department has the responsibility for protection of the balance of the County, which includes scattered homes, farms, railroad improvements, ranches, and oil and gas field facilities. The Fallon Fire District protects the Fallon area. The Cabin Creek Fire District protects the Cabin Creek area of Prairie County, which has 24 scattered homes, farmsteads and outbuildings, and dryland farming and pastureland. Fallon and Cabin Creek Fire Districts fund their own district through a tax levy assessed by the District.
Prairie County has mutual aid agreements with all surrounding counties, the City of Glendive, and the City of Miles City.
When a fire is in proximity to Federal land, BLM Fire Managers will assist.
The DNRC provides equipment, aerial assistance, and acts as a liaison between local and government agencies on major fires.
The Prairie County Ambulance Service is staffed by volunteers and has two ambulances. The ambulance service in Prairie County operates from user fees and the County and the Hospital District fund equipment replacement through a levy of one mill annually.
Figure D.4 Ambulance Charges for Services & Expenses, 2005

Prairie County Clerk and Recorder
Health Care
Prairie County employs one full time County Health Nurse. The nurse offers vaccinations, blood pressure checks, health education, does in-home visits and assessments, and fills medications. One C.N.A. works 20 hours per week through the Prairie County Health Department. There is a Meals On Wheels program and a Homemaker who does light housekeeping for residents sixty years and older.

Hospital & Clinic
The Prairie County Health Center and Clinic has a Physician’s Assistant available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers full service emergency room, laboratory, and x-ray assistance. The Prairie County Health Center employs one full time Physician’s Assistant, who also acts part time as a County Health Officer.
Nursing Home

The Prairie County Nursing Home maintains a total of 21 beds; two inpatient critical care beds are available along with 19 licensed skilled nursing home beds. Currently the nursing home stays 90-98% full and the cost is approximately $132.50 per day.

Senior Center
The Prairie County Senior Center has congregate meals twice a week, coffee time every morning, and holds different activities throughout the month for the residents of the county.
The Prairie County library provides a vast multitude of services for the community. Free Internet access is available, as well as a selection of audiotapes and video rentals. Books about local and Montana history are found here. The Prairie County library is a sight for the Resource Occupational Career Center, which is operated through Action for Eastern Montana.
Museum and Lady Cameron Gallery
The Prairie County Museum is housed in downtown Terry in two former State Bank of Terry buildings. Other buildings the Prairie County Museum is responsible for include a caboose, depot, outhouse, homestead and Gallery. The Museum features a glimpse of an era gone by, showcasing a homesteader’s house, antique farm equipment, turn of the century cattle and sheep raising equipment, and homesteader tools.
The Lady Cameron Gallery is located next to the Prairie County Museum and displays photographs and memorabilia from the life of Evelyn Cameron. Evelyn Cameron moved to the Prairie County area with her husband, Ewen, in the late 1800’s. Evelyn produced an outstanding photographic record of eastern Montana during the early days.
Extension Service
The Prairie County Extension Service offers reference material for agriculture producers and administers the 4-H program.

The Prairie County fairgrounds offer facilities for use by the public for various events.

The Prairie County Manor is a county-owned building that is currently vacant. Historically, the Manor started as the hospital in Terry and then a nursing home.

Fallon Park

The Fallon Park is used for various gatherings for residents and visitors. Currently, the maintenance and preservation of the park’s exceptional facilities is supported through the residents of Fallon.

The Prairie County Land Planning Board has identified the following issues, goals and objectives for local services and public facilities in Prairie County:
26.) Goal: Encourage retirees to relocate to Terry for the excellent services available.

26a.) Promote the Senior Center.

26b.) Encourage funding opportunities to fund and maintain the Senior Center and other services for senior citizens.
Issue: Availability of electricity, roads, sewer and water for future areas of buildings and subdivisions.
27.) Goal: Assist subdividers and landowners in acquiring necessary services for the development of property.

27a.) Prairie County should provide information to people who want to develop properties on how and what steps they need to take when considering building or creating subdivisions. (Prairie County should develop a small pamphlet of Items of Importance for builders and subdividers.)
Issue: There are numerous roads in Prairie County. Maintenance of these roads is of vital importance to Prairie County residents.
28.) Goal: Encourage timely and adequate maintenance of roads in Prairie County.


28a.) Prairie County supports cooperation between federal, state, and local governments involving the financing of Prairie County roads.
28b.) Prairie County is a rural county and as such roads are of vital importance to the preservation of our lifestyle. Prairie County supports efforts to maintain and develop our federal, state, and county roadways in a manner that is safe and provides access for our citizens.
Issue: Cooperation of Federal and State law enforcement agencies and personnel with Prairie County law enforcement.
29.) Goal: Federal and State law enforcement agencies and wildlife agencies should maintain close contact with Prairie County law enforcement.

29a.) Prairie County states in its plan that Prairie County citizens’ needs, private property rights and general welfare are of paramount concern to local government. The Prairie County Government should be informed in advance of planned actions by Federal and State governments that may affect county governments’ ability to perform its duties to local citizens.
Issue: State and Federal firefighters need to make clear their methods, goals, and fire policies that govern their actions within the boundaries of Prairie County.
30.) Goal: State and Federal firefighters should coordinate with local fire teams and be previously notified about county citizens concerns in fire situations.

30a.) Prairie County states that federal and state firefighters consider Prairie County citizens’ property and future economics when conducting fire management.
Issue: BLM and State recreational areas create additional need of County Search and Rescue, law enforcement, road, and medical services.
31.) Goal: Prairie County may need some help from state and federal agencies for the increased services that recreation brings.

31a.) When County Government feels that recreation is requiring extra county services, the appropriate federal or state agency should be made aware of the increased need for services. Help or compensation should be arranged between the County and the appropriate agency.
32.) Goal: Prairie County supports maintaining medical facilities that will allow our citizens to remain in Prairie County and enjoy a rural lifestyle.
33.) Goal: Prairie County values its airport and will work to maintain its value and operation for the County.
34.) Goal: Maintain current capability of our school facilities to accommodate additional students.

  • Support efforts for obtaining computers and needed equipment for the continuation of the school’s advancement.

  • Continue to encourage support of extra curricular activities and opportunities.

35.) Goal: Prairie County shall encourage a transportation network that optimizes accessibility within the County and that optimizes the cost of movement between all communities and across public lands.
36.) Goal: Private property ownership must be protected to preserve the county tax base.


Land use and management are a significant component of Prairie County’s economic vitality and well-being. Agriculture is the dominant land use in Prairie County. The County has approximately 145,613 acres in irrigated and non-irrigated cropland.
Land in Prairie County is primarily owned and managed by private landowners. The Federal and State Government administers approximately 46% of the land in Prairie County. The Bureau of Land Management has control of approximately 601,804 acres of subsurface minerals in the County and manages approximately 447,462 surface acres.
The information presented in this section provides a general overview of the existing status of land use in Prairie County as well as important ownerships that will continue to affect future land use decisions. The tables and figures included on the following pages show the importance of agricultural land uses and ownership rights to Prairie County.
According to information on record at the Prairie County Clerk and Recorder’s office, the Bureau of Land Management and the Farm Service Agency, land ownership in Prairie County is primarily by private individuals. Table E.1 lists owners, acreages owned and their respective percent in the County.

Table E.1 2005 Land Ownership in Prairie County




Bureau of Land Management



State of Montana

Approx. 55,805



Approx. 11,053





Total acres in county

1,103,985.05 acres


Sources: Prairie County Clerk and Recorder


Farm Service Agency

Prairie County Ownership map
See Appendix Map III: Prairie County Land Ownership, DNRC
Land Use
Table E.2 displays land use data for Prairie County in 2005. Land uses include cropland, land in CRP and rangeland, which are discussed in further detail in subsequent paragraphs.
Table E.2 Land Use Data


145,612.5 acres


15,276.15 acres


130,336.25 acres


40,996.3 acres



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