Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters

What is Open Fields?

Open Fields works with landowners to manage CRP in a wildlife-friendly way to provide important cover for Montana’s game birds. Conservation-incentive programs like Open Fields are geared to help landowners keep some land enrolled in CRP and to provide public game bird hunting opportunities.

Program Details

Landowners may enroll up to 320 CRP acres per contiguous parcel of land. More than one application may be submitted if landownership parcels are at least ¼-mile apart.

Landowners receive a one-time lease payment of $5.00 per CRP acre (320-acre maximum per contract) for each year that remains in their CRP contract. For example, if 320 acres of CRP are enrolled for 15 years, the landowner receives a one-time payment of $24,000 in return for managing the CRP as outlined below:

  • CRP is eligible for managed or emergency harvesting or routine grazing activities once in 5 years and must be pre-approved by FSA prior to harvesting or grazing.
  • All enrolled acres are open to free walk-in public access for game bird hunting with no further permission needed.

NEW FOR 2020: Depending on interest and funding availability, FWP will offer cost-share on ground disturbance (light disking) to help reinvigorate CRP stands.

For additional information, please see the Open Fields Fact Sheet .

Program Eligibility

The following counties will receive priority for Open Fields enrollment, but landowners in other counties are welcome to apply: Cascade, Chouteau, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Glacier, McCone, Pondera, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Teton, Toole, Valley, and Wibaux.

To be considered eligible, the following criteria must be met:

  • All enrollments must be on private land that is legally accessible for walk-in game bird hunting.
  • A minimum of 2 years remaining on USDA CRP contracts.

Lands not eligible include the following:

  • Lands enrolled in Block Management in 2019.
  • Lands immediately adjacent to a Block Management Area under the same ownership.
  • Lands part of an active Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program contract.
  • Because of differing management jurisdictions, lands within Indian Reservations do not qualify.

Application Submission and Deadline

Download Application

Mail your application and your required maps to FWP:

  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Wildlife Division
  • P.O. Box 200701
  • Helena, MT 59620

Application Deadline

Applications must be postmarked no later than May 22, 2020.


  • Debbie Hohler

  • Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program Biologist
  • (406) 444-5674

Open Fields is made possible through a grant provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Voluntary Public Access Habitat Incentive Program. This grant helps landowners keep some land in CRP and expands hunting access for game bird hunters.

Thank you for your interest in Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters!

Since 2012, nearly 165 private landowners have enrolled approximately 60,000 acres of CRP and other quality habitats!