Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is working with the USFWS Joint Ventures and other partners to identify areas in need of conservation and to provide the tools to help landowners and managers enhance and maintain bird habitat. Landowners play a critical role in bird conservation, as maintenance of working landscapes is beneficial to birds.
Currently, we are participating in the following activities and projects (with partners):
- Representation on Joint Venture boards, technical committees, and state steering committees. Joint Ventures are leaders in partnership-based habitat conservation for migratory birds.
- Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) development. This is a landowner incentive program for the conservation of wetlands and wetland habitat for wildlife on private lands. It differs from the traditional Wetland Reserve Program by including reserved grazing rights. For more information, read the WREP Fact Sheet 150 KB.
- Development of special species initiatives to prioritize conservation action (some focal species include long-billed curlew, black tern, and Sprague's pipit).
- Preparation of NAWCA grants for the conservation of priority wetlands.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and partners can provide guidance and information on conservation programs including:
- Intermountain West Joint Venture capacity grants. These funds are intended to support capacity needs, or 'people power', to implement conservation programs in western Montana. In 2009, Montana received 4 grants totaling $60,000 to support grassroots conservation work.
- NAWCA (North American Wetland Conservation Act) funding. NAWCA funding can be used to restore wetlands or acquire easements and fee title lands that benefit wetland dependent bird species. There are currently 22 projects completed or ongoing in Montana. Together they have conserved over 229,056 acres of wildlife habitat in Montana. NAWCA funds of over $15.9 million were used, with partner contributions of over $75 million, to conserve these areas.
- Farm Bill Programs. These programs provide landowner incentive payments to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat on private lands. The best program for a given landscape will depend on local factors, wildlife values, and management needs. In Montana, over 600,000 acres of agricultural land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), just one of the Farm Bill programs. CRP is designed to retire highly erodible lands from agricultural production and establish permanent cover for wildlife. The documented benefits of CRP to wildlife and wildlife habitat have been dramatic. The Field Guide to the Farm Bill for Fish and Wildlife Conservation is a great resource for biologists and landowners alike.