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Riparian and Floodplain Management

Technical and Financial Assistance for Responsible Development near Montana's Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands

The margins along streams, rivers, and wetlands in Montana are important natural resources that often attract development because of the diverse natural features and amenities found there. These natural features include riparian areas and floodplains. Some of the amenities or values associated with these areas are: wildlife habitat, flood water storage, ground water recharge, water quality, forage and timber resources, cultural significance, and recreation.

Technical and financial assistance available from NRCS can help land owners and land managers maintain riparian and floodplain setbacks to protect these margins as waterfront areas come under development pressure. NRCS's natural resources conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters.

Photo showing bank erosion with homes built right next to water. Photo showing home built with good setback from water.

Bank erosion, flooding, introduction of pollutants and loss of critical habitat are all effects caused by building too closely to water's edge.

Constructing a home with a stream setback helps maintain a natural setting, and provides room for fish, wildlife, and vegetation to thrive.

NRCS Technical Resources

The following on-line NRCS technical resources provide information pertaining to riparian and floodplain management:

Additional information is available from NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.

NRCS Conservation Programs

Land owners and land managers interested in the conservation and enhancement of riparian and floodplain areas on their land may be eligible for technical and financial assistance through the NRCS conservation programs listed here.

  • Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. Through WHIP, NRCS provides both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.
    For more information: Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is available to those who qualify as agricultural producers. It is a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
    For more information: Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. Working through existing programs, USDA partners with State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners.
    For more information: Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
  • Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) - Floodplain Easements. Floodplain easements purchased through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of the floodplain. Floodplain easements also conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and open space. To be eligible, the land must have been flooded the past three out of five years.
    For more information: Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) - Floodplain Easements
  • Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.
    For more information: Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

Related Information

The following publications are available in Adobe Reader format. If you encounter any problems with the file provided on this page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.