Ranching for River – funding opportunity for landowners

The Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana (SWCDM), in partnership with the Missouri River Conservation  Districts Council, is pleased to announce funding is available for Ranching for Rivers, a cost-share program to help ranchers with riparian pasture fencing projects.

The purpose of Ranching for Rivers is to provide landowners throughout the state with the necessary resources to voluntarily construct fences and/or other infrastructure (crossings, water gaps, off-stream water, etc.) that enable them to better manage the riparian resources on their land. The program promotes the use of “riparian pastures” as an alternative to complete exclusion of the riparian area to livestock. A riparian pasture is a relatively small pasture that can still be grazed for a portion of the year. Operation benefits include improved management flexibility, the ability to use livestock grazing to manage weeds and overgrown vegetation, increased usage of upland range habitat, and decreased maintenance costs of fencing and off-stream water resources. Natural resource benefits include improved riparian and vegetation habitat, improved water quality and quantity, improved wildlife and fishery habitat, and improved access for wildlife to stream areas.

Funding is available to landowners along streams or rivers included in DEQ-approved Watershed Restoration Plans. A link to these plans and areas can be found here. If you are unsure if your project is part of a WRP, please contact Jessica Makus, 406-443-5711, or jessica@macdnet.org.

Ranching for Rivers offers up to 50% cost-share for riparian pasture fencing, pasture-related watering infrastructure, labor, and equipment use. This funding will also include the services of a range management specialist to work with each landowner to design a customized grazing plan for the new pasture.

Please see the attached Solicitation for Applications as well as the Application. More information can be found on our website, https://swcdm.org/programs/r4r/.