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Things you need to know about being a Montana land owner... and who to ask

  1. DRILLING WELLS.Be advised that in most places in Montana you have to drill a well for water if you’re in the country. Who to Contact: Water Rights Bureau of the DNRC, Bozeman, 586-3136 or a local well driller. Record the water rights on your well with the DNRC.
  2. WATER RIGHTS. You must have a permit before diverting, withdrawing, impounding or distributing any surface water. Who to Contact: Water Rights Bureau of the DNRC, Bozeman, 586-3136.
  3. PROTECTION OF STREAMBEDS AND BANKS. You must have a permit before doing any activity that modifies the stream channel or stream banks. Who to Contact: Madison County Conservation District, Ennis, 682-4602.
  4. WATER QUALITY PROTECTION. You are responsible for preventing livestock manure, pesticides, sediment and other pollutants from reaching waterways. Who to Contact: Water Quality Bureau of the Department of Health and Environmental Sciences (DHES), Helena. Phone 444-2406.
  5. FLOOD PLAIN PROTECTION. You must have a permit before doing any construction work in an area that would be inundated in a 100-year flood. Who to Contact: Madison County Sanitarian, Virginia City, 843-4275.
  6. WETLANDS PROTECTION. You must have a permit to fill, drain, or dredge any waters of the U.S., including wetlands. Who to Contact: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Helena, 444-6670, Water Quality Bureau of the DHES, Helena, 444-2406.
  7. STOCKING FISH IN YOUR POND. You need a permit to stock any species of fish in a private pond. Who to Contact: Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, 444-2449.
  8. BURNING TRASH. Madison County determines the best time of year for open burning. Who to Contact: Madison Valley Rural Fire Department, Ennis, 682-3311.
  9. CONTROL OF NOXIOUS WEEDS. All counties in Montana have laws requiring you to control noxious weeds and file a Weed Plan with the local office. Who to Contact: Madison County Weed Supervisor, Virginia City, 843-5594.
  10. SEPTIC SYSTEMS. Montana requires a septic permit when building within the county. Who to Contact: Madison County Sanitarian, Virginia City, 843-4275.
  11. CITY ZONING AND PERMITS: Before building, contact the town of Ennis for all permits and fees. Who to Contact: Town of Ennis, 682-4287.
  12. COUNTY PERMITS: Before building, contact the Madison County planning office to obtain a construction permit and septic permit. There is no county zoning. Who to Contact: County Sanitarian, Ralph Hamler, Virginia City, 843-4275.
  13. ADDRESSES: Before construction you will need to obtain an official street address. Who to Contact: County Planning Office, Virginia City, 843-5250.
  14. OPEN RANGE. Montana is an open range state. As a general rule, fence your property to keep range livestock out and your animals in. Who to Contact: Department of Livestock, Helena, 444-2023
  15. MINERAL RIGHTS. Mineral rights in Montana are very fragmented and difficult to ascertain. A title company can do a mineral right search for a fee.
  16. Who to Contact: A Montana attorney specializing in mineral rights or a local title company.
  17. UTILITIES. Some areas do not have electricity or telephone service “to the door.” Alternative energy sources are available. Who to Contact: Northwestern Energy, Bozeman, 888 467-2669; 3 Rivers Telephone, Fairfield, 800 796-4567
  18. CRIME. The sparse concentration of people has led to a relatively low crime rate. For more information or to report a crime: Who to Contact: Madison County Sheriff’s office, Virginia City, 843-5301
  19. SUBDIVISIONS: Subdivisions in this area, and generally statewide, are ranches or large parcels of land which have been divided into smaller tracts. Parcels less than 160 acres must go through a county and state review process for approval. There are almost no small parcels which are not in a subdivision.
  20. CONSERVATION EASEMENTS: A conservation easement is one way to keep more open space and keep Montana a great place to live. Donors may be entitled to a reduction in taxes. Who to Contact: The Nature Conservancy of Montana, Helena, 443-0303, The Montana Land Reliance, Helena, 443-7027, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Helena, 444-6759. And hire a good land use attorney to advise and protect your interests.
  21. SALES TAX: Montana has no sales tax. The state is funded primarily by a state income tax, real property and personal property taxes, and vehicle licensing.
  22. PROPERTY TAXES: Real property taxes are not based upon the sales price. Individual properties are appraised and taxable valuable determined every six years. Your property’s value is multiplied by a tax rate then multiplied by the mill levy for your area. Who to Contact: Madison County Appraiser, 843-5335.
  23. INCOME TAXES: Out-of-state residents who own and sell their Montana property are required to file a Montana Income Tax return and declare their gain. Provide your CPA with copies of your settlement statement.
  24. TAX EXEMPTIONS: Tax exemptions may be available for: disabled veterans and non-fossil energy reduction.
  25. TAX PROCESS: Begins with an appraisal of your property. The State requires reappraisal every six years.
  26. SAVING THE RANCHES: The Madison Valley Ranchlands Group (MVRG) is working with ranchers and other Madison Valley property owners to keep the ranching way of life viable by protecting open space for productive agriculture, wildlife habitat, recreation and water shed management.
  27. SAVING THE RIVER: The Madison River Foundation is an advocate for the Madison watershed. They work to preserve, protect and enhance this valuable resource.
Local: (406)682-4290       Fax: (406)682-4062       219 E. Main St       PO Box 546       Ennis, Montana 59729
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