What Natural Resources Are Found in Montana?

The natural resources in Montana include fertile soil, rangeland, minerals, forests and undeveloped natural areas. Natural resources contribute to most of the major economic activities in the state.

Glacier deposits make the soil in Montana especially fertile, allowing it to support cereal crops such as wheat, barley and hay. Beans, potatoes and sugar beets are also important state crops. Uncultivated areas are suitable for rangeland, particularly for cattle ranches, and some of the largest cattle ranches in the United States are in Montana.

Exploited minerals include gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc in the southwest part of the state. Coal lies under 51,000 square miles of land, comprising about 25 percent of the nation's coal reserves. In addition, Montana has significant reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

Forests cover almost a quarter of the state, creating habitats for wildlife such as black bear, elk, deer and moose. Forests also supply timber to commercial industries. Douglas fir, pine and western larch trees provide the most valuable types of wood. The state is also home to the Glacier National Park, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Yellowstone National Park. Millions of tourists visit these natural areas every year, boosting the state economy.