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Spring Family Farm located in Gallatin County, Montana

Missouri Headwaters and Lower Gallatin Basin RCPP Project

Apply by: October 27, 2023

This Regional Conservation Partnership (RCPP) project is located in Gallatin Valley, Montana, the fastest growing county in Montana, the Gallatin Valley’s exceptionally productive soils and nationally significant water resources are severely threatened by the rapid pace of development.

Map of Gallatin Valley RCPP project

This Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, Missouri Headwaters and Lower Gallatin Basin Conservation and Restoration Project Agreement 2140, is located in the heart of Montana’s Big Sky Country. The Gallatin Valley is known for its exceptional soils, blue-ribbon trout fisheries, and its important role as the headwaters of the Missouri River and the cornerstone of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. As the fastest growing county in Montana, the Gallatin Valley’s exceptionally productive soils and nationally significant water resources are severely threatened by the rapid pace of development. This RCPP focuses conservation efforts on purchasing conservation easements from willing landowners (Entity Held Easement option) and land stewardship projects (Land Management option) in the valley to protect water quality, prime farmland and reduce urban sprawl. Most of the funds will go directly to farmers and ranchers to complete conservation projects on their properties.

Who Can Participate?

The project area is the lower portion of the Gallatin Basin (HUC 10020008), extending into the headwaters area of the Missouri River at the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson Rivers. It is primarily in Gallatin County, Montana, but also includes portions of Madison and Park Counties. The area is commonly known as the Gallatin Valley. It is approximately 670,000 acres and encompasses an area more than 1,000 square miles. Within this larger region, projects will be prioritized that:

  • Adjoin or are close to designated “impaired water bodies” (especially Camp Creek, the East Gallatin River and their tributaries); and/or
  • Have prime, important or unique agricultural soils.

Project Partners

Gallatin Valley Land Trust (lead partner)
Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators 
Montana Audubon Society
City of Bozeman
Gallatin Conservation District
Gallatin County
Gallatin County /MSU Extension
Gallatin Local Water Quality District

Gallatin National Forest    
Greater Gallatin Watershed Council
Heart of the Rockies Initiative
Montana Association of Land Trusts
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Land Reliance
National Park Service Rivers & Trails
Trout Unlimited
Trust for Public Land

Eligible Land Uses

Cropland, pasture, range, forest, farmstead, and associated agricultural land.

Eligible Conservation Practices (Land Management)

472 Access Control
560 Access Road
396 Aquatic Organism Passage
314 Brush Management
584 Channel Bed Stabilization
327 Conservation Cover
328 Conservation Crop Rotation
340 Cover Crop
342 Critical Area Planting
348 Dam, Diversion
362 Diversion
647 Early Successional Habitat Development
382 Fence
386 Field Border
393 Filter Strip
511 Forage Harvest Management
666 Forest Stand Improvement
383 Fuel Break
410 Grade Stabilization Structure
412 Grassed Waterway
355 Ground Water Testing
325 High Tunnel System
561 Heavy Use Area Protection
315 Herbaceous Weed Treatment
428 Irrigation Ditch Lining
441 Irrigation System, Micro irrigation
430 Irrigation Pipeline
449 Irrigation Water Management
516 Livestock Pipeline
576 Livestock Shelter Structure
590 Nutrient Management
500 Obstruction Removal


512 Pasture and Hay Planting
595 Pest Management
533 Pumping Plant
528 Prescribed Grazing
462 Precision Land Forming
550 Range Planting
643 Restoration of Rare or Declining Natural Communities
329 Residue and Tillage Management, No Till
345 Residue and Tillage Management, Reduced Till
391 Riparian Forest Buffer
558 Roof Runoff Structure
610 Salinity and Sodic Management
574 Spring Development
442 Sprinkler System
578 Stream Crossing
580 Streambank and Shoreline Protection
587 Structure for Water Control
649 Structures for Wildlife
612 Tree/Shrub Establishment
660 Tree/Shrub Pruning
645 Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
635 Vegetated Treatment Area
638 Water and Sediment Control Basin
642 Water Well
351 Well Decommissioning
614 Watering Facility
659 Wetland Enhancement
657 Wetland Restoration
644 Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management
380 Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment/Renovation
384 Woody Residue Treatment

Detailed descriptions of these conservation practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide.

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

Land Management Questions

The following questions are for Gallatin Valley RCPP Project Land Management Activities (farming and ranching practices). NRCS uses these questions to evaluate eligible applications for this project and to prioritize applications for potential funding.

  1. Distance to impaired stream (Answer only one)
    • Adjacent to or within 0.5 miles
    • 0.5 miles to 2 miles
  2. Is the project on land permanently conserved through a conservation easement or under agreement to proceed with a conservation easement?
  3. Does the proposed project include practices that enhance wildlife habitat and fisheries?
  4. Does the proposed project include practices that enhance water quality through the reduction of sediment, nutrient load, or E. Coli?
  5. Will the practices in the application result in the relocation or closure of an AFO/CAFO facility to address surface water resource concerns evaluated by reducing the MontFARM index value to less than 19?

Entity Held Easement Questions

  1. Percent of prime, unique, and important farmland in the parcel to be protected.
    • Less than 25 percent
    • 25 percent to less than 50 percent
    • 50 percent to less than 75 percent
    • 75 percent or greater
  2. Distance to natural, perennially flowing stream, water resource, or other aquatic habitat.
    • Within 1/2 mile
    • Greater than 1/2 mile and less than 2 m
    • 2 miles or greater
  3. Proximity to protected lands (privately conserved land, Federal and state lands)
    • Less than 1 mile
    • 1 Mile to less than 2 Miles
    • 2 Miles to less than 3 Miles
    • 3 Miles and over
  4. Parcel contains habitat for Species of Concern or Threaten or Endangered Species based on National Heritage information.
    • Zero Species
    • One species
    • Two species
    • Three species
    • Four species
    • Five species
    • Six species or more
  5. Agricultural conservation practices are being implemented to reduce field sediment, nutrient loss, and pathogens.
    • Yes
    • No

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 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.