Project Description

Big Hole River Incentive Program

Project Update:

The Big Hole River Incentive Program is a collaborative project with the Big Hole Watershed Committee to accelerate and expand conservation stewardship through a voluntary incentive-based program.

To advance the program we are working with MT DNRC Forestry division on a re-design grant to launch the cooperative as a pilot. The $300,000 grant would pay landowners for stewardship and restoration activities. The pilot project would target the lower reach of the river, where the CCAA is not in place, and focus on the riparian and floodplain habitats. Participating landowners would receive funding for practices including: grazing management, wetland and stream restoration and management, stock water systems, fencing and riparian plantings. The grant would support the program for three years. Once the program was in operation we would shift our marketing efforts to engage other funding sources to sustain and expand the program throughout the watershed. The proposal was ranked highly in 2014, but the funding allocation for the program was severely reduced. Our current submission will be reviewed early in 2015.


Lead a landowner driven process to accelerate and expand conservation stewardship through a voluntary incentive-based program aimed at improving floodplain function, resiliency, and protection.


Create an incentive program that rewards management that supports fish and wildlife habitat, river corridor functions, and water quality.
Establishing a payment for ecosystem services programs is a growing approach to conservation. These market-based programs provide a structure for transactions between landowners providing public benefits from their land management (i.e. clean water) and those benefiting from the services (i.e. municipal water supply). Our collaborative committee has spent the last several years learning about these programs, developing a strategic plan for a Big Hole program and investigating funding sources to fuel the transactions.


A river corridor that is managed to maintain its functions and adapt to climate change. A river corridor that sustains water quality and quantity, agriculture, fish and wildlife habitat, and the health and safety of property, residents, and visitors.


Beaverhead, Madison, Butte-Silverbow, Anaconda-Deerlodge Counties, DEQ, DNRC, BHWC, WCS, Fish, Wildlife & Parks.


Big Hole Watershed Committee Floodplain Maps
2013 Land Study