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Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area Range Health and Conifer Encroachment TIP


This Targeted Implementation Plan (TIP) is available in Broadwater County, Montana. TIPs are local-level Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) initiatives used by NRCS in Montana to guide on-the-ground implementation of locally developed Long Range County Plans.

Project Description

County or Counties: Broadwater
Primary Resource Concern: Plant productivity and health
Time Frame: Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 through FY 2023

The goal of this project is to assist private landowners within the Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area in Broadwater County with the restoration of plant productivity and health, treatment of conifer encroachment, improved forest health, and re-establishment of hydrologic function. The project will improve range function, reduce wildfire hazard, and maintain wildlife habitat value by changing the plant composition of the landscape to one less dominated by juniper. Encroachment of Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) on range and forest lands was recently identified by the Broadwater County Local Working Group; an advisory body to the Natural Resources Conservation Service; as one of the primary resource concerns to be addressed in all watersheds in Broadwater County. Expansion of juniper, beyond its historic range throughout much of the county, has resulted in significant loss of range and forest ecological function. The ending of Native American burning practices in the 1800’s, increased fire suppression throughout the mountain west, along with the transition of sheep to cattle grazing allotments on federal lands, and juniper’s ability to more readily use excess atmospheric carbon dioxide have resulted in accelerated encroachment (2001, Knapp et al. & 2005 Miller et al.). Encroaching juniper can out compete desirable perennial herbaceous, shrub, and tree species, decreasing the amount and diversity of these ecologically and hydrologically significant structural and functional groups. Encroaching juniper can also increase the risk of soil erosion and invasive weeds and decrease water quality and quantity throughout the mountain range.

Conservation Practices Offered

  • 314 Brush Management
  • 666 Forest Stand Improvement
  • 384 Woody Residue Treatment
  • 315 Herbaceous Weed Control

Detailed descriptions of these conservation practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4 - Practice Standards and Supporting Documents.

When to Apply

Program applications are accepted on a continual basis. However, NRCS establishes application ranking dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. Applications received after the ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. See Montana Programs and Application Dates.

Local Ranking Questions

NRCS uses these questions to evaluate eligible applications for this project and to prioritize applications for potential funding.

  1. Will brush management (314) be the only contracted practice?
  2. Does the site consist of 90 percent or more of perennial native grass & forbs?
  3. Does the average of the ecological site descriptions in the treatment area have at least 798 pounds per acre production for a normal year?

Additional Montana Information

Targeted Implementation Plans (TIPs) are local-level Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) initiatives used by NRCS in Montana to guide on-the-ground implementation of locally developed Long Range County Plans. These plans are part of the "Focused Conservation” strategy to guide Montana's EQIP investments. Learn more about Montana Focused Conservation and Targeted Implementation Plans.

Additional Information

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

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How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.