Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station

The Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station is the statewide agency research unit of the College of Forestry and Conservation. The MFCES was founded in 1937 and provides base funding for an active research program at the college. That research addresses issues Montanans care about, like water availability and forest management.

The MFCES owns and manages two properties, Lubrecht Experimental Forest and Bandy Experimental Ranch. Both are actively managed for timber and grazing and serve as outdoor laboratories for the college's students and faculty. 

MFCES Station Director
Jim Burchfield

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Research Initiatives

In 2011-2012, MFCES researchers worked on more than 200 funded research projects and published more than 175 artciles in scientific and professional journals about that work. Some examples of the research and outreach of the MFCES include:

  • MFCES researchers are studying the effects of pre-commercial thinning on tree and stand growth rates in lodgepole and Ponderosa pine forests
  • Professor Kelsey Jencso is producing data about drought, degree growing days, ground cover stress, and other factors important to the industries and public who rely on Montana's clean available water
  • Professor Carl Seielstad is using advanced laser technology to collect fuels data that will help generate precise, accurate fire models. Landowners will be able to use these models to make decisions about how to protect their resources from fire

Leveraging external funds

Using the state base funds, the MFCES pursues additional funding to conduct research and outreach that enhances the understanding, stewardship, and use of Montana's timber, water, wildlife, land, and other natural resources in ways that enhance quality of life. In 2011-12, the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station managed nearly $35,000,000 in additional external grants and contracts. The state's investment in the MFCES provides the matching funds needed to obtain much of this additional funding. Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, the National Science Foundation, and the National Park Service, as well as state agencies, NGOs, and private foundations all support MFCES research. The USDA's McIntire-Stennis program also provides federal research funds to the MFCES.