The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana is offering cost-share funding for ranchers through their Ranching for Rivers program to support landowners who wish to improve riparian grazing and pastures and protect water quality in streams and rivers.
The program provides 50% cost-share for riparian fencing and related infrastructure, including stream crossings and watering systems for livestock (water gaps, off-site tanks) projects.
Applications for projects are due no later than June 15. Projects must be located in an area with an approved Watershed Restoration Plan. Assistance is available to help determine if you qualify. For more information and to apply, contact Jessica Makus, Program Manager, Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, at 406-443-5711, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website.
Unlike complete exclusion, this program works with ranchers to develop a grazing plan that allows for some grazing in riparian pastures. This allows ranchers some flexibility, provides shelter for animals, can help manage weeds and, when done correctly, it can increase plant diversity in riparian forests (including cottonwoods and other woody plants important for stabilizing stream banks).
Funding for projects comes from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality 319 funding that helps improve water quality in impaired streams and rivers.
Ranching for Rivers success story
The Flathead Conservation District’s Landowner Assistance Programs also provide landowners with cost-share assistance to support implementation of conservation practices on private property. For more information contact the Flathead Conservation District at 406-752-4220.