Photo by Kelli Roemer


Winnett ACES

Agricultural Community Enhancement and Sustainability

Petroleum County is one of the most deeply rural places in America. It spans an area of 1,655 square miles but is home to just 494 people. Winnett is the county seat and lone town in the county and has a population of 188. We are the least populous county in Montana. And the seventh least populous county in the United States. Yet, our county persists. It persists because it serves a vital role in the functioning of America. Ranchers here produce high quality food for the world, while also managing a considerable portion of the last remaining intact, native prairie in North America.

This place matters – it matters to the ranchers who care for their land and livestock, it matters to the local community, it matters to those who benefit from hunting and fishing opportunities, and it matters to those who care about native prairie. The people, land, and animals coexist in a delicate balance, with each serving as support for the others. With passion for our community, and for our environment, we serve as stewards working to strengthen the resiliency of our community.

The Winnett ACES (Agricultural and Community Enhancement and Sustainability) began as a group of Winnett area producers joining together to address the most important issues facing our community. Our community leaders saw that responsible land management is best done through local management, by people who understand the land and its needs as well as the community and its needs.

Photo by Diana Brady

Photo by Diana Brady

Photo by Leslie Iverson

Photo by Leslie Iverson


Photo by Brenda Brady


aces accomplishments - 2018

  • Local beef continuing to be served in Winnett Public Schools

  • Completion of a Feasibility Study for the Land Project. The Land Project was determined to be feasible. The ultimate goals of this project are for land to stay in local ownership, grazing to support area ranchers (particularly the next generation of operators), and for community sustainability.

  • Working to solve the problem of elk over-population.

  • Hosted a 4-part “Ranch Profitability” workshop series with Plank Stewardship Initiative.

  • Large-landscape Range Monitoring with interested landowners –bird monitoring survey, range monitoring, and carbon soil testing.

  • Hosted a “Measuring Community Success” Discussion.

  • Hosted MSU students for a class project.

  • Hosted Costco Sustainable Beef pilot project presenters at an ACES meeting.

  • Supported the Community Center group, hosted Snowy Mountain Development Corporation at an ACES meeting.

  • Hosted The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Margaret A. Carghill Foundation and MSU Grasslands Resilience Working Group.

  • Invitation to and attendance at Partners for Collaborative Conservation Workshop.

  • Bill Milton awarded Land and Livelihoods award from Western Landowners Alliance. Bill selected RSA and ACES to receive award money.

  • Invitation to and participation in grasslands episode of the Netflix Our Planet series.

1200 Hours Donated by ACES Members in 2018