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State Grass Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Alone, bluebunch wheatgrass represents all Montana. Of all the state's native symbols, it enjoys the widest range. The honor of becoming Montana's state grass was bestowed upon it by the forty-third Legislature in 1973. 

The state grass greens up early throughout Montana, grows in most soils, and protrudes above the early snows of fall to provide excellent forage for livestock. Such range-fed cattle and sheep contribute significantly to Montana's economy, which averages over 700 million dollars in gross revenues in recent years.

Perhaps no one is more aware of the attributes of bluebunch wheatgrass than ranchers in the northern and eastern parts of the state. It was from that section of the state -- Havre, to be specific -- that a movement began to recognize the grass.

A community development group in Havre called FORUM, sponsored jointly by the area Chamber of Commerce and Hill Country Extension Service, began a drive to have the state designate an official grass in the spring of 1972. Under the able leadership of Mrs. Toni Hagener, FORUM elicited support from all quarters. Sponsors included the state's press and USDA Range Conservationist Joseph C. Zacek.

FORUM's efforts reached fruition in Senator David James' Senate Bill 41, during the 1973 session. Agropyron spicatum, Bluebunch Wheatgrass in scientific terms, became Montana's official state grass and joined the list of symbols to represent a state notable for contrasts in heritage and physical endowment.

Special Acknowledgements to: Montana Historical Society, Rex C. Meyers and Norma B. Ashby

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