Cover photo for Ranching for Rivers

Ranching for Rivers

Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana

Closed Indefinitely

Our sources indicate that this program is closed indefinitely and unlikely to reopen.

The Ranching for Rivers Program is a cost-share program designed to assist landowners protect riparian health through improved ranching practices. Through the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Ranching for Rivers offers 50% cost-share for fencing material, off-site water infrastructure, and developing grazing management plans. Funding is also available for Conservation Districts and Watershed Groups to provide technical assistance on ranching management projects to local landowners in their area.



Landowners, Conservation Districts, and Watershed Groups who are working within areas with a DEQ-approved Watershed Restoration Plan are encouraged to apply for program funding for identified projects. When the application is open, Restoration Plan maps can be found on the

Eligible Costs:

  • Fencing Material for complete exclusions or “riparian pastures”

  • Livestock pipeline

  • Materials for stream crossing

  • Permanent drinking tanks & winter tanks with storage

  • Contracted costs for the development of a Grazing Management Plan by a range specialist

  • Conservation District and Watershed Group Staff time for technical assistance

NRCS rates, provided in appendix A of the Ranching for Rivers Application, can be used to calculate expenses for certain practices

Ineligible Costs:

  • Time & labor costs by associated with project installation

  • Fencing/equipment maintenance or replacement


The Ranching for Rivers program offers 50% cost-share for project implementation and/or the development of a Grazing Management Plan. The 50% cost-share will be provided in the form of reimbursement following a completed project. Upon application acceptance, landowners are required to complete a landowner agreement requiring maintenance of the installed practice(s) for the expected life of the practice(s) (typically 10 years).

50% nonfederal match must be recorded and reported to SWCDM along with final project expenses and reporting. Match may include:

  • Dollars provided by other non-federal grants used to complete the project

  • Dollars provided directly by the landowner.

  • Laboring or administrative costs by a Conservation District, Watershed Group, or landowner not already being charged directly to the Ranching for Rivers program.

Application Instructions

  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis January – December 2020.

  • Applications should be submitted to Stephanie Adams, SWCDM Director electronically to

  • Applications will be reviewed by a panel consisting of SWCDM, DEQ, and MRCDC representatives.

  • SWCDM will submit a letter of acceptance, rejection, or recommendations within 60 days of application submission.

  • If recommendations are presented to the applicant, the applicant must resubmit the application with suggested amendments for full consideration.

  • If accepted, the landowner & associated Conservation District/Watershed Group will work with SWCDM to complete a Scope of Work, Operations & Maintenance Agreement, and Cost-Share Contract that must be completed and signed by all parties within 90 days of the acceptance letter.


Release Date

January 1, 2020


December 31, 2020

Financial Instrument

Cost Share, Grant

Updated March 27, 2024

Image Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.

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