Pheasant habitat in north-central Montana will get a huge shot in the arm thanks to a $6.4 million federal award.
Pheasant habitat in north-central Montana will get a huge shot in the arm thanks to a $6.4 million federal award.

Valuable north-central Montana grasslands will get an important financial boost of a $6.4 million award as part of a Big Game Habitat Improvement Project, according to Pheasants Forever.

Pheasants Forever and 12 like-minded habitat conservation partners received the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The award will provide technical and financial assistance programs to farmers and ranchers for improving grazing operations, restoring grassland habitat, and retaining intact rangelands in one of Montana’s most important big game migration corridors.

“Pheasants Forever’s Big Game Habitat Improvement Project is set to make a landscape-level impact for wildlife habitat,” says 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 partners ranging from the Canadian border to the Musselshell Plains.”

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NRCS announced its intent to invest $330 million in 85 locally-driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural.

In addition to Pheasants Forever, partners in the Montana project include: Bureau of Land Management, Winnett ACES, Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, USFWS, 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.