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Prairie habitat

Conservation > Habitat Habitat Conservation Lease Program

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is accepting applications for its new Habitat Conservation Lease Program.  

A habitat conservation lease is a voluntary, incentive-based agreement between FWP and private landowners in which the landowner commits to specific land management practices that protect priority wildlife habitat. In turn, FWP pays landowners a one-time per-acre fee for the lease. These agreements would have a term length of 30 and 40 years. For payment levels and other related information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions document below.

As it has for decades, FWP is still pursuing conservation easements and land purchases where support from landowners, local officials and the community exists. The lease program is an addition to the conservation tools already available to landowners.   

The initial focus of the conservation lease program will be primarily for prairie habitats, with a priority on sage-grouse core areas, prairie pothole wetland, and other plains habitats recognized by FWP as high priority for wildlife. That focus will be expanded to other priority habitats in subsequent years.  

In areas critical to sage-grouse, these leases will ensure habitat protections that help keep populations healthy and allow the bird to remain off the Endangered Species List.  

The Habitat Conservation Lease Program potentially could protect up to 500,000 acres in the next five years.  

Proposed Changes to the Program

FWP proposed two changes to the Habitat Conservation Lease Program which are detailed in the following Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment. The public was invited to review and comment on this proposal and related analyses.  Public comments were due by May 1, 2023

Please note: program changes proposed here are not reflected in the “Additional Information” section below. 

Additional Information

Learn more about conservation leases and priority areas of conservation

How to Apply

FWP is seeking proposals from landowners for priority sagebrush, grassland and wetland habitats (that is, “prairie habitat”) in FWP Regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and the southwest portion of Region 3.

Deadline: Applications are due by July 14, 2023. Once the application period closes, FWP will get in touch with applicants. For successful applications, it will take 3 to 6 months to complete all steps to finalize a lease agreement.


If you have additional questions, please contact your regional FWP office or the Wildlife Division office at: 

  • Region 1, Kalispell – 406-752-5501

  • Region 2, Missoula – 406-542-5500

  • Region 3, Bozeman – 406-577-7907

  • Region 4, Great Falls – 406-454-5840

  • Region 5, Billings – 406-247-2940

  • Region 6, Glasgow – 406-228-3700

  • Region 7, Miles City – 406-234-0900

  • Wildlife Division, statewide – 406-444-2612