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new grass grows under thinned pine forest

Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area

Apply by: March 31, 2023

The Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership program (16 U.S.C. § 6592d) is working to improve the health and resilience of forest landscapes across National Forest System land and state, tribal, and private lands.

Project Description

Project duration: 2023-2025
Project area: Broadwater, Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark counties

This project will support diverse and sustainable forest and non-forested ecosystems, reduce the intensity of wildfire, enhance wildlife habitat, and maintain or improve watershed values on 6,270 acres of private land and 13,500 acres of Forest Service lands. The Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit (ECMA) is unique in the National Forest System and is cooperatively managed by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests (USDA Forest Service), the Butte Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), NRCS, and the Department of Defense – Montana Army National Guard (DOD). The planning area is a mix of private, county, state and federal (NFS, BLM and Department of Army) lands, and presents a unique opportunity to create synergies across ownership boundaries and increase overall project efficiency and efficacy. High priority treatment areas for this project include a municipal watershed and numerous communities and residential developments in the wildland urban interface (WUI) which lie within high and extreme fire risk areas. There is a 21,000 acre Military Training Center and a utility corridor that will also benefit from improved forest conditions. Management activities will span several forest types. Reduction of conifer colonization in grasslands and shrublands will increase habitat diversity for additional wildlife species, improve the resilience of the local landscape, and benefit local communities. Meadow and shrubland restoration and the reintroduction of fire will improve high-quality wildlife habitat into the future and restore grasslands to more historic conditions.

Project Partners

  • Big Elk Divide Restoration Collaborative
  • Broadwater Conservation District
  • Broadwater County
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Jefferson County
  • Jefferson County Weed District
  • Jefferson Valley Conservation District
  • Montana Army National Guard
  • Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Tri-County Fire Safe Working Group

Land Use

Forest, range and pasture

Applicable Conservation Practices

  • 314 Brush Management (Light Density)
  • 314 Brush Management (High Density)
  • 383 Fuel Break
  • 384 Woody Residue Management
  • 666 Forest Stand Improvement
  • 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. Does the average of the ESD in the treatment area have at least 798/lbs/ac for a normal year?
    • Yes
    • No
  2. Does the application include practices that reduce hazardous wildfire fuels on land ADJOINING current or recently completed (within 5 years) wildfire fuel reduction projects?
    • Yes
    • No
  3. Is the treatment area in an extreme or high fire zone
    • Extreme
    • High
    • Low or medium 
  4. Is the proposed Treatment area immediately adjacent to an ingress/egress route to be used by residents for escape/first responder access?  Select one answer.
    • Adjacent to Primary public road
    • Adjacent to secondary/private road or driveway

Additional Montana Information

NRCS contributions to Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership projects in Montana are managed through the Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

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 number.

If you don’t have a farm 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 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. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

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.