76-15-101. Legislative determinations. It is declared, as a matter of legislative determination:
(1) that the farm and grazing lands of the state of Montana are among the basic assets of the state and that the preservation of these lands is necessary to protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of its people; that improper land use practices have caused and have contributed to and are now causing and contributing to a progressively more serious erosion of the farm and grazing lands of this state by wind and water; that the breaking of natural grass, plant, and forest cover has interfered with the natural factors of soil stabilization, causing loosening of soil and exhaustion of humus and developing a soil condition that favors erosion; that the topsoil is being blown and washed out of fields and pastures; that there has been an accelerated washing of sloping fields; that these processes of erosion by wind and water speed up with removal of absorptive topsoil, causing exposure of less absorptive and less protective but more erosive subsoil; that failure by any land occupier to conserve the soil and control erosion upon the occupier's lands causes a washing and blowing of soil and water from the occupier's lands onto other lands and makes the conservation of soil and control of erosion on other lands difficult or impossible;
(2) that the consequences of soil erosion in the form of soil blowing and soil washing are the silting and sedimentation of stream channels, reservoirs, dams, and ditches, the loss of fertile soil material in dust storms, the piling up of soil on lower slopes and its deposit over alluvial plains, the reduction in productivity or outright ruin of rich bottom lands by overwash of poor subsoil material, sand, and gravel swept out of the hills, the deterioration of soil and its fertility, the deterioration of crops and range cover grown on the land, declining acre yields despite development of scientific processes for increasing yields, the loss of soil and water that causes destruction of food and cover for wildlife, a blowing and washing of soil into streams that silts over spawning beds and destroys water plants, diminishing the food supply of fish, a diminishing of the underground water reserve, which causes water shortages, intensifies periods of drought, and causes crop and range vegetation cover failures, an increase in the speed and volume of rainfall runoff, causing severe and increasing floods that bring suffering, disease, and death, the impoverishment of families attempting to operate eroding and eroded lands, damage to roads, highways, railways, farm buildings, and other property from floods and from dust storms, and losses in municipal water supply, irrigation developments, farming, and grazing;
(3) that to conserve soil resources and control and prevent soil erosion and prevent floodwater and sediment damages and further the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water, it is necessary that land use practices contributing to soil wastage and soil erosion be discouraged and discontinued and appropriate soil-conserving land use practices and works of improvement for flood prevention and the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water be adopted and carried out; that among the procedures necessary for widespread adoption are the carrying on of engineering operations such as the construction of water spreaders, terraces, terrace outlets, check dams, desilting basins, floodwater retarding structures, channel improvements, floodways, land drainage, dikes, ponds, ditches, and the like; the utilization of strip cropping, lister furrowing, contour cultivating, and contour furrowing; land drainage; land irrigation; seeding and planting of waste, sloping, abandoned, or eroded lands with water-conserving and erosion-preventing plants, trees, and grasses; forestation and reforestation; rotation of crops, restriction of number of livestock grazed, deferred grazing, and rodent eradication; soil stabilization with trees, grasses, legumes, and other thick-growing, soil-holding crops; retardation of runoff by increasing absorption of rainfall; and retirement from cultivation of steep, highly erosive areas and areas now badly gullied or otherwise eroded.
History: En. Sec. 2, Ch. 72, L. 1939; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 5, L. 1959; R.C.M. 1947, 76-102(A) thru (C); amd. Sec. 2525, Ch. 56, L. 2009.