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Wild turkeys in Montana.

Conservation: Landowner Programs Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters

Open Fields works with landowners to manage CRP in a wildlife-friendly way to provide important cover for Montana’s game birds. 


Montana has lost a significant amount of CRP in recent years, and more is scheduled to expire in the near future. 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 10 years, the landowner receives a one-time payment of $16,000 in return for managing the CRP as outlined below:

  • CRP may be 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 OPTIONS: Depending on interest and funding availability, FWP will offer cost-share on ground disturbance (light disking) to help reinvigorate CRP stands.

Landowners reseeding their stand are eligible to receive an additional $5/acre for one year only (up to $1,600.00)

For additional information, please see the Open Fields Fact Sheet (PDF)

Program Eligibility

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 2021.
  • 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 Information

Download Application
 
Mail application and 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 6, 2022.

Contact

Debbie Hohler

Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program Biologist
406-444-5674
DHohler@mt.gov

Fact Sheet


Have Questions?  Check out our 2022 fact sheet for a rundown of FWP's Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters program.

Open Fields Fact Sheet 
Open Fields Sign