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Engineering > Technology & Development > MTDC

Missoula Technology & Development Center

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"Caring for the Land
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The Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) began as the support facility for Forest Service fire management in the late 1940's, when a small group started developing techniques for parachuting men and cargo. In the early 1960's, the center's role was expanded to a Service-wide technical center with a nationwide program that now encompasses all Forest Service equipment needs. Today, MTDC works with Federal and State agencies, universities, private firms, and research groups to meet its responsibilities to resource managers.

What is MTDC?

MTDC is one of four detached units of the Engineering Staff in Washington, DC, and serves Forest Service Regions and cooperating Federal and State agencies. MTDC makes equipment, information, concepts, and ideas available so Federal and State agencies can better manage the millions of acres of public land.

The Center:

  • Interviews Forest Service personnel to help identify real needs.
  • Surveys commercial markets and tests promising products.
  • Designs, builds, and tests prototype equipment.
  • Cooperates with private industry to develop commercial sources.
  • Maintains specifications and standards for fire and safety equipment.
  • Disseminates publications, fabrication drawings, project films, and audiovisual programs.


Wide-ranging problem solving in resource management demands varied skills. Equipment specialists, engineers, writers, foresters, draftsmen, technicians, illustrators, and photographers all work as project team members to accomplish goals.

Staff members have worked on projects in fire and aviation, timber, occupational safety and health, engineering, forest pest management, range and disturbed land rehabilitation, watershed, wildlife, cooperative forestry, forest residues, recreation, and law enforcement.

The team approach has resulted in these recent accomplishments:

  • [Photograph]: fire suppression equipment testing.Tree nursery pickup system
  • Chunkwood chipper for utilizing slash
  • Audiovisual on crew supervision and safety
  • Satellite navigation and position locating system
  • The Salmon Blade scarifier
  • Improved firefighter's clothing and equipment
  • Improved aircraft restraint system for cargo and smokejumpers
  • Electronic tree measurement devices
  • Placement guide for traffic control devices
  • Orchard netting retrieval machine
  • Audiovisual showing how to order and inspect Forest Service signs
  • Improved aerial ignition equipment
  • Disk chain for range improvement
  • Fire shelter training facilitator's guide
  • Sign maintenance guide for Forest Service signs.


MTDC is located in an area noted for timber, water, range, wildlife, and recreation, ensuring ready contact with resource managers and their problems. Within 150 miles of MTDC are more than 22 million acres of National Forest (about one-eighth of the total National Forest System) and millions of acres of National Forest Wilderness.


MTDC occupies buildings at the Forest Service campus near the airport in Missoula, MT. The headquarters includes the offices for most of the staff, an electronics laboratory to design and test instrumentation for a variety of resource needs, a softgoods shop for making items of fabric and webbing, and an equipment fabrication shop and test facility.

Contact MTDC:

Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC)
5785 Hwy 10 W
Missoula, MT 59808
Phone: 406-329-3900
Fax: 406-329-3719

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