Lawrence Rhone of Rhones Farm and Retreat LLC, approached the Daniels County, Mont., USDA office in February of 2014 in search of conservation assistance to improve wildlife habitat surrounding his local farmstead. His farmstead was adjacent to abandoned cropland that was scattered with old broken farm equipment and had been overgrown with weeds. Being a military veteran himself, Lawrence’s ultimate goal is to turn this abandoned area into a retreat area where the men and women of the United States Armed Forces could enjoy the outdoors and build relationships.
With the assistance of NRCS, Rhone completed an Environmental Quality Incentives Program contract that resulted in the planting of 1,300 shrubs/trees during the spring of 2016. About 400 of the trees were donated by the Daniels County Conservation District. Rhone, along with his family and neighbors, worked hard to haul old equipment off the land, prep the seedbed, plant the six-row shelterbelt, and install fabric.
Species planted included sea buckthorn, juniper, black hills spruce, buffalo berry, chokecherry, and sand cherry. These species will provide wind protection and food sources for wildlife. The leeward sides of the shelterbelt included a large garden and apple trees. Rhone is currently looking into using a drip irrigation system to encourage faster tree establishment.
“Without all the amazing local support, they would not have been able to accomplish as much as they have,” said Andy Johnsrud, NRCS district conservationist in Scobey.
Learn more about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Source: Montana NRCS