Sanders County covers a diverse area. Spanning 130 miles of the lower Clark Fork river valley in Northwest Montana the county consists of forested valleys and mountain ranges on the west end and open grasslands towards the east. Thompson Falls, the county seat, lies in the west-central portion of the county. While areas of western Sanders County receive in excess of 36" average annual precipitation, locations near Niarada and Lonepine may experience less than 10", making them fairly arid. The agricultural and natural resource base of the area follows a similar pattern. Traditional farming and ranching communities occupy the eastern third and a mixed small farm-logging economy is found towards the west. A population shift from the incorporated cities to rural dwellings occurred in Sanders Co. during the late 1980's and early 90's. While the incorporated cities of Thompson Falls, Plains and Hot Springs lost 10-30 % of their population, the county as a whole grew by approximately 18% to slightly over 10,000. The Sanders County Extension office is staffed by one full-time Agricultural/4-H/Community Resource Development agent and one full-time Family & Consumer Science/4-H agent. It is further staffed by one administrative assistant.