by Brian Ohs, Montana ALE Program Coordinator
The USDA/NRCS fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, and MALT members are well aware of the challenges that new NRCS policies and guidance presented for the Montana ALE program throughout the year. Add to that, the unique challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which needs no explanation.
So, it seems appropriate to give a tip-of-the-hat to the participating land trusts for their tireless efforts to overcome these obstacles for their 2020 ALE applications. It is also fitting to give a big thank you to Tom Watson, Allen Persinger, Jeff Combs, Abby Rokosch, and to the entire NRCS state and national easement teams for their undaunted efforts as well. (Ed Note: Thanks to Brian Ohs as well.) Special thanks to Regan Anderson, an Agriculture Program Specialist at FSA, who led the effort to ensure individual project AGI compliance.
MALT is proud to report that during FY20, thanks to the partnership with the NRCS, together in Montana we closed 12 easements, totaling 29,996 acres, which ranks Montana number one in the nation for conserved acres. Furthermore, thanks to the state and national NRCS, received funding for the land trust community to pursue 17 ALE projects in FY20, which will conserve 63,347 acres, also number one in the nation. Not a bad year in the saddle, all things considered.
These results demonstrate the strength and value of the NRCS / MALT / Montana landowners partnership to achieve agricultural conservation for the benefit of Montana open land, Montana’s rural communities, Montana agriculture and Montana farm and ranch families.