June 10, 2009
There seems to be no shortage of ideas on how to return the upper Clark Fork River Basin to a healthy ecosystem.
Now in its 10th year of grantmaking, the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program will award up to $15 million in grants for restoration and replacement projects, but has received 13 grant proposals totaling roughly $23 million. In recent years, the amount requested from the grant program hasn’t exceeded the amount made available.
Among the projects submitted for the 2009 grant cycle were proposals to:
The NRD grant funds derive from a lawsuit against ARCO and can be used for projects in the upper Clark Fork that restore or replace injured natural resources and/or lost services provided by those resources. Since 1999, about $67.5 million has been awarded to 90 grant projects aimed at improving the upper Clark Fork River Basin’s fish and wildlife habitats and populations, public recreation opportunities, and public drinking water supplies.
These proposals will be evaluated by NRDP staff and then considered by the Governor’s Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Advisory Council, which is made up of citizens and public officials from throughout the basin. Gov. Schweitzer has yet to appoint the 2009 advisory council though he is expected to do so soon. The advisory council’s recommendations are then taken up by the Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council, which comprises the heads of state agencies like the DEQ, FWP and DNRC, and the executive branch.