Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Field of Sainfoin blooming pink with mountains in the distance, Park County, Montana

Upper Yellowstone Watershed Conservation RCPP Project


This Regional Conservation Partnership (RCPP) project is located in the Upper Yellowstone River watershed of Montana. The project combines both conservation easements and implementation of climate-smart land management practices.

The Upper Yellowstone Watershed Conservation Partnership plans to implement a nationally significant conservation project to protect and enhance critical wildlife migration corridors, historic agricultural lands and water quality in the Upper Yellowstone River Watershed of Montana. This area provides critical wintering range and migratory routes for elk, pronghorn antelope and mule deer. Through outreach and community engagement, project partners will identify high priority conservation parcels and work with willing landowners to complete impactful conservation activities. The partnership's objective is to place conservation easements on up to 15,000 acres and implement climate-smart land management practices and systems on an additional 4-6 properties.

Project duration: 2023 - 2028.
Project area: Upper Yellowstone Watershed in Park County and a small portion of Gallatin County.

Project Partners

  • Gallatin Valley Land Trust
  • AMB West Philanthropies
  • Park Conservation District
  • Heart of the Rockies Initiative
  • Montana Land Reliance
  • Park County Environmental Council
  • Solso Family Foundation

Eligible Land Uses

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

Eligible Conservation Practices (Land Management)

  • 472 Access Control
  • 560 Access Road
  • 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, 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

  1. Is the project on land permanently conserved through a conservation easement or under agreement to proceed with a conservation easement?
  2. Will the project incorporate Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry practices?
  3. Does the proposed project include practices that enhance terrestrial habitat and/or fisheries?
  4. Does the proposed project include practices that enhance water quality by addressing a reduction in field sediment, nutrient, and pathogen loss?
  5. Does the proposed project include removal or replacement of fence that inhibits wildlife passage?

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.