The USDA NASS Census of Agriculture 2017 data has been released. The number of acres classified as a farm or ranch in Montana decreased of 5.4% over the last ten years from 61,388,462 acres in 2007 to 58,122,878 acres in 2017.
There are a number of tools used across the country to connect people to land, promote ownership and equity, and preserve community values related to land-use. Community land trusts (CLTs) are one of these tools. Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations that aim to foster community stewardship of land.
Applications are due May 1st for the 2019 Montana State Hemp Program. The Montana Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Pilot Program included 58 hemp growers and included grew 22,000 acres of hemp in 2018, up from 550 acres in 2017. In 2018, Montana grew more hemp in terms of acreage than any other state.
At the recent Western Landowners Alliance Land & Livelihoods conference in Billings, Montana, Burke Teichert shared his thoughts and insights on what he calls the Systems Approach to land and cattle. The rules of thumb and short lists provided by Teichert distill a complex subject and complicated processes down to tangible action items and measurable indicators of performance. All of Teichert’s tools and rules really speak to the larger topic of profitable decision making.
The Upper Colorado River Commission System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP) will be put on hold after this year. The program has funded 45 fallowing efforts at an average cost of $205 / acre-foot of conserved consumptive use in the first three years. In 2018, ranchers and famers in the upper basin will receive $3.9 million in payments through the program.
At the Western Landowners Alliance Legacy on the Land event, Howard Weiss from the US Trust broke down succession planning and governance to their component parts.Succession planning has many elements. Expressed as a formula, succession planning = farm and ranch management + ownership transition + estate planning.
The Western Landowners Alliance Legacy on the Land event featured presentations regarding private operating foundations as a means of land succession planning. A private operating foundation is a legal entity structure in which the foundation spends 85 percent of the lesser of its adjusted net income or minimum investment return is used directly for its exempt activities.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture census data, the average age of farmers and ranchers exceeded 58 years of age for the first time in 2012. Succession planning is one of the aspects of aging land operators and properties nearing transition.
The historic Finlen Hotel in Butte, which opened in 1924, has sold. The transaction was made possible in part to a $412,000 loan from Butte’s Uptown taxing district, the Urban Revitalization Agency (URA). The URA is a tax-increment financing (TIF) district, which generates funds by property tax dollars from new developments that are then re-invested in private buildings in the area through grants and loans.
The Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC) has issued a Request for Proposals to invite users of the Colorado River System water in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming to submit proposals for Pilot Program water conservation projects. Projects are meant to test methods for saving water that could be part of a drought contingency plan in the Upper Basin of the Colorado River.
Montana Aquatic Resource Services recently released a white paper on Channel Migration Easements (CME). A specific form of conservation easement, a CME allows a landowner to continue to use their land while allowing the river to migrate across the floodplain within the easement boundaries. So far MARS has worked with conservation partners and thoughtful landowners to close Montana's first two channel migration easements (CMEs).
As part of the Working Lands for Wildlife program, the NRCS works with partners and private landowners to focus voluntary conservation on working landscapes. The NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers, which helps them plan and implement conservation practices that benefit target species and priority landscapes. WLFW focuses on eight target species and eleven priority landscapes. The program attempts to get out in front of declining species that may be listed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) if populations continue to diminish.
Prefab and modular residential housing designed to be part of the ecosystems where they are built provide options for occupants that intend to best steward the places they call home. Over the last decade, many new and innovative products have come to market boasting low-impact building footprints, modern design, thoughtful scaling options, and sustainable materials. We've chosen to preview five new and innovative concepts: Rising Barn, Porch House, Back Country Hut, Nomadic Shack, and Hyla Hut.
The USDA NRCS has awarded more than $22.6 million to drive innovation in conservation this year. Nationwide in 2017, 33 projects are receiving funding through the Conservation Innovation Grant program. There were a handful of innovative programs funded that are geared to the American West including several conservation finance projects.
The Bitter Root Resource Conservation & Development is combating the dangers of wildfire by reducing fuels through their fire mitigation program: the Hazardous Fuels Reduction Fuel Mitigation Grant Program. The program is a 50 / 50 cost-share in the form of a grant from the organization.