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Press Release

USDA Expands Migratory Big Game Pilot in Wyoming to Broader Landscape Initiative, Expanding Next to Idaho and Montana


USDA is expanding its partnership to support the voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big game populations from Wyoming to Idaho and Montana.

BOISE, Nov. 21, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding its partnership to support the voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big game populations from the state of Wyoming to also include Idaho and Montana. USDA’s Migratory Big Game Initiative provides a new package of investments in key conservation programs for fiscal year 2024, which includes funding to support increased staffing capacity and the deployment of streamlined program application processes for agricultural producers and landowners. Producers in Idaho will be able to apply for conservation programs offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) that meet their unique needs starting this fall.  

“We’re pleased to announce the expansion of this initiative,” said acting State Conservationist for NRCS Idaho Bruce Sandoval. “It will help create new and enhanced opportunities through USDA’s conservation programs to keep working lands working and give farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners new opportunities to conserve wildlife and migration corridors.”

Package of Opportunities for Producers

USDA will offer producers a package of opportunities they can choose from to meet their operations’ unique needs. Programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (Grassland CRP) and will be available across a wide range of lands including grasslands, shrublands, and forested habitats located on tribal and privately owned working lands. This opportunity is available statewide, but priority areas of: the Panhandle Complex, the Lemhi Valley Complex, the Smoky-Boise Complex, the Big Desert-Mountain Valley Complex and the Rocky Point complex, which were developed in coordination with state wildlife agencies, will be given preference.

For fiscal year 2024, NRCS has provided Wyoming, Montana and Idaho with $21.4 million in dedicated funding to kickstart the new Migratory Big Game Initiative. In Idaho, this includes $3,000,000 for perpetual conservation easements through ACEP, and $4,395,423 for on-the-ground restoration and enhancement practices through EQIP.

ACEP helps producers who want to protect sensitive landscapes and prime farmlands from conversion to non-compatible land uses such as residential subdivision through establishment of long-term conservation easements. EQIP focuses on integrating practices on working lands, such as prescribed grazing systems.

NRCS accepts applications year-round for EQIP and CSP. Interested producers should contact the NRCS at their local USDA Service Center. 

Climate-Smart Activities

The Migratory Big Game Initiative advances USDA’s efforts in climate-smart agriculture, and it’s funding is bolstered by the Inflation Reduction Act. Recently, NRCS expanded the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Mitigation Activities that qualify for funding through the Inflation Reduction Act, and several of those are critical to this initiative, including brush management, prescribed burning and herbaceous weed treatment. 

Building on the Success in Wyoming

The Wyoming pilot for this initiative was first announced in May 2022. The initiative leverages and compliments other ongoing conservation efforts on working lands such as those conducted under the Working Lands for Wildlife’s (WLFW) Framework for Conservation Action in the Great Plains Grasslands and Sagebrush Biome, unveiled in 2021 by USDA. Both efforts emphasize a commitment to voluntary, incentive-based approaches; identifies and elevates the critical role of private, working lands; and stresses the importance of supporting state, tribal, and landowners to advance their conservation priorities.

More Information

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit   



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