Montana FWP Announces Open Fields Enrollment Period
Applications can be submitted through April 15
February 23, 2022 | View PDF
Helena – It’s time for landowners with land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program to send in applications for enrollment in the state-sponsored Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters, a voluntary incentive program designed to benefit landowners while also providing habitat for upland game birds and giving bird hunters more places to hunt.
Open Fields is offered through Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program and is available to private landowners with existing CRP with at least two years remaining on the contract. Landowners applying for enrollment in the 2022 general CRP sign-up are encouraged to apply for Open Fields. Up to 320 CRP acres per landowner may be enrolled. Participants receive a one-time payment based on $5 per CRP-acre each year the CRP is enrolled in the federal program.
In addition to rental payments, landowners may also qualify for financial incentives to conduct specific mid-contract management activities, such as light disking, with prior approval through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Producers who are area-seeding CRP may qualify for a bonus payment of $5 per acre.
All enrollments must be on private land that is legally accessible. Landowners must agree to allow free walk-in game bird hunting without further permission. Open Fields leases allow for haying or grazing once in five years when pre-approved by the USDA Farm Services Agency.
Enrolled lands will be clearly signed 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. Landowners already enrolled in those programs are encouraged to contact FWP for other CRP-related habitat improvement and incentive options, including Habitat Management Leases and CRP Seed Cost-shares.
Applications for enrollment in Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters may be submitted through April 15. For more information and an application, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov; and then click “Open Fields Application.”