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for people who care about the West

Conservation can pay

  Skip Newman, who runs a family ranch about 50 miles west of Great Falls, Mont., recently fenced off the banks of Muddy Creek, drilled a well and set up water troughs away from the stream for his cows. "There is an erosion and water quality problem, and I just wanted to do my part," Newman says. "All the people living downstream will benefit in some way." Newman won't be paying for the projects by himself. The most recent Farm Bill allows the government to pick up 75 percent of the tab. Its Environmental Quality Incentives Program is one of more than 20 projects that offer more than $2.5 billion in subsidies to farmers and ranchers. A guide to help landowners and wildlife managers apply for some of these programs is available from the Wildlife Management Institute. It's called the Wildlife Manager's Field Guide to the Farm Bill, and the 44-page publication is $4 from the Wildlife Management Institute, 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C. 20005 (202/371-1808).

*Mark Matthews