The Roundup -

'Open Fields' Enrollment Is Now Open

 


It’s time for landowners in a select list of counties to enroll in the state-sponsored “Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters.” The voluntary program offers extra incentives aimed at further conserving productive game bird habitat enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. Nearly 44,000 acres have been enrolled in Open Fields since 2012.

The $5-per acre incentive, offered through Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program, is available to private landowners who have a minimum of two years left on their federal contract or are enrolling new lands into CRP.

New this year, producers who enroll cropland into new CRP contracts will be eligible to receive a bonus payment of up to $800 to help cover seed costs for wildlife friendly seed mixes.

The following counties will receive priority for Open Fields enrollment: Cascade, Chouteau, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Glacier, McCone, Pondera, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Teton, Toole, Valley, and Wibaux.

Open Fields leases do not allow for emergency haying or grazing that is in addition to scheduled maintenance. All enrollments must be on private lands that are legally accessible by public right of ways and allow free walk-in game bird hunting without further permission.

Up to 160 CRP acres per application may be enrolled. Landowners may submit more than one application if the CRP is located on a separate, unique parcel of land.

In return, participating landowners receive $5-per-acre each year the land is enrolled in CRP. Enrolled lands must be clearly posted to allow for walk-in game bird hunting. Because this program is intended to expand areas open to the public for game bird hunting, lands that are already enrolled in FWP’s Block Management Program or the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program do not qualify.

Applications for enrollment in Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters will be scored by FWP. Landowners may offer additional acreage to help square up access boundaries and increase evaluation scores. Applications may be submitted through March 7, 2016. For more information and an application, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov/ugbep; and then click “Open Fields Enrollment”.

Funding for Open Fields has been made possible through a Volunteer Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program grant awarded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-14-288. 

For details, contact Debbie Hohler at 406-444-5674, or by e-mail: dhohler@mt.gov.

 

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