(photo courtesy of erlyquailclubllc.com)
Sign up time is here for the popular Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters program.
Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters is a voluntary program that pays landowners an add-on payment for lands enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. Open Fields is aimed at conserving Montana’s productive game bird habitats enrolled in CRP—and at providing additional public hunting access for upland game bird hunting.
Counties eligible for program participation are: Cascade, Chouteau, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Glacier, McCone, Pondera, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Teton, Toole, Valley, and Wibaux. The program is available for new or existing CRP-enrolled lands that have a minimum of three years left on the contract.
“Open Fields clearly has helped producers with their decision to enroll their land in CRP,” said Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena.
For contract terms five years and greater, the CRP acres may incur one haying or grazing event. Scheduled maintenance or an emergency provision is considered one event. CRP acres enrolled for three and four years are not eligible for any haying or grazing events.
In return, participating landowners receive $5-per-acre each year the land is enrolled in the program. Enrolled lands must be clearly posted for walk-in game bird hunting. Because this program is intended to expand areas open to the public for game bird hunting, lands that are already enrolled in FWP’s Block Management Program or the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program do not qualify.
Applications for Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters may be submitted May 20 through June 14. For more information and an application, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov; then click “For Fish & Wildlife Information.”
Send applications to: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks – Wildlife Division; Attention: Upland Game Bird Habitat Enhancement Program; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620.
For details, contact FWP at: 406-444-2612, or by e-mail: email@example.com.
(Report by Cathy Stewart – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)