Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks encourages prospective Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) grant applicants to start planning now. The grant application period will be open from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15, 2019, to be considered for funding in 2020.
The purpose of WHIP is to accomplish large-scale restoration of private and publicly owned, high-priority wildlife habitats through noxious weed management. The program can annually allocate up to $2 million of federal Wildlife Restoration Act funds to support restoration work through noxious weed control. Grant expenditures are limited to herbicide, mechanical, biocontrol, and re-seeding treatments, specifically to restore wildlife habitat functions. The program can also pay for range infrastructure to improve livestock grazing management for restoring native wildlife habitats and reducing susceptibility to noxious weed invasion.
Grant awards are based on eligibility and competitive ranking. To qualify for funding, projects must enhance ecologically important wildlife habitat through control or management of noxious weeds that directly threaten habitat functions; use a landscape scale approach; have a reasonable probability of treatment effectiveness; and include a minimum 25 percent cash match of non-federal dollars. In addition to considering eligibility factors, ranking criteria includes number of funding partners and amount of contributions, number of landowners involved, and accessibility of participating lands for public hunting. Awarded grants can be structured to provide funding for up to five years.
Cooperative weed projects involving multiple landowners require coordination and planning. Interested local cooperative groups should also contact their county weed district and the local FWP wildlife biologist for assistance with planning for a WHIP project.
For more about the WHIP program, visit the FWP website http://fwp.mt.gov. If you have questions about planning for a WHIP grant or getting started with a project sponsor, contact Kim Antonick, WHIP coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-444-7291.