Thirteen Projects Vie for Limited State Restoration Funds

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:

  • Continue replacement of leaking waterlines in Butte and Anaconda
  • Develop trail and park facilities and acquire neighboring lands at the Milltown Superfund site
  • Continue restoration and recreation improvements at the Silver Bow Greenway
  • Acquire land or easements in the Granite, Powell and Deer Lodge-Anaconda Counties
  • Implement stream restoration projects on Flint Creek and the East Fork of Rock Creek
  • Remove old river piers in the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers
  • Improve user facilities at Warm Springs Ponds

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.

There are opportunities for public comment at the meetings, beginning this summer and continuing through the fall. There will also be a 30-day comment period before the Governor’s final decision in December. Written comments can be sent to the NRDP via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to: P.O. Box 201425 Helena, MT 59620. For more on the program, visit the NRDP website.

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