Habitat & Conservation  |  04/27/2021

Pheasants Forever in Montana Selected for $6.4 Million Regional Conservation Partnership Program Award for Prairie Grasslands Region


Malta, Mont. – April 27, 2021: Pheasants Forever and twelve dedicated partners have been selected to receive a major Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) totaling $6.4 million for habitat delivery efforts in north-central Montana. Matched dollar-for-dollar through partner contributions, the Big Game Habitat Improvement Project will focus on outreach and technical/financial assistance programs to farmers and ranchers for improving grazing operations, restoring grassland habitat, and retaining intact rangelands on 60,000 acres in one of the state’s most coveted big game migration corridors.

Pheasants Forever's Big Game Habitat Improvement Project is set to make a landscape-level impact for wildlife habitat in north-central Montana,” said Hunter VanDonsel, Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill biologist and lead for the RCPP project. “This massive effort will work closely with local communities to improve grazing systems and anchor intact grazing lands that are vital to wildlife migration and wintering habitat. When we focus on Prairie Grasslands Region improvements for Montana's world-class big game species - elk, mule deer, and pronghorn - upland birds such as sage grouse, sharptails, pheasants and partridge all benefit. This project wouldn't be possible without amazing partnerships led by producers ranging from the Canadian border to the Musselshell Plains.


The Regional Conservation Partnership Program promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand the nation’s collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. NRCS announced on Monday its intent to invest $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said NRCS Acting Chief Terry Cosby. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.


Project: Big Game Habitat Improvement Project
State: Montana
Region: Prairie Grasslands
RCPP Funding: $6,433,194
RCPP Match: $6,433,194
Partners: Bureau of Land Management, Winnett ACES, Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, Ducks Unlimited, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, The Nature Conservancy, Montana State University- Extension, and the World Wildlife Fund
Description: The Big Game Habitat Improvement Project will address threats to big game migration corridors and winter ranges through outreach, technical assistance, and producer contracts. The robust group of thirteen partners will work with producers to improve grazing operations, restore grassland habitats, and retain intact rangelands. Additional benefits include improved grazing management, improved plant productivity and health, making grassland more resilient to drought, and restoring marginal cropland to perennial grasses.