KLYQ: A Funding Flood for Montana Water Projects

by Steve Fullerton

Helping fish and helping humans in Montana was the focus of recent water project funding announcements. The native bull trout will get a helping hand…er…fin with projects in five Montana counties.

The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will provide $230,000, along with $846,000 in partner matching money for fish passage and other improvements to help native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout in both Ravalli County and Deer Lodge County. A total of 55 miles and 270 acres of re-opened habitat will allow migratory access to spawning grounds.

Senator Jon Tester announced that Powell County, Beaverhead County, and Lewis and Clark County will get $250,000 in IIJA funds, along with $190,000 in matching funds, to help bull trout and arctic graying by restoring about 20 miles of what is called upstream habitat.

The National Fish Passage Program will get $38 million for 40 fish passage projects throughout the country. The plans include re-opening over 57,000 miles of upstream habitat and over 190,000 acres of wetland habitat for a variety of fish and animals. Tester said that program will get $200 million IIJA funds over the next five years.

Six Montana irrigation systems are to be updated
And, the US Department of Agriculture is spending some money, too. The federal Watershed and Flood Prevention Program and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program have announced $330,000 in funding for six Montana projects.

The projects are in the Wolf Point Irrigation District, the Helena Valley Irrigation District, The Kinsey Irrigation District, Missoula Conservation District, Tongue & Yellowstone River Irrigation District and the Wyota Irrigation District. Those funds are mainly being used to modernize the water delivery systems.

Nationally, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing $30 million for 132 projects in 31 states. Among the projects are dam repair, flood prevention and watershed restoration.