Senators announce more than $8 million for homeland security in Montana

Money will go to northern border counties and State of Montana

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced that the State of Montana and eleven Montana counties will receive $8.2 million to help address critical homeland security needs.

Last year, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security to allow northern border counties to apply for funding through 'Operation Stonegarden.'  The program was previously only for security on America's southern border.

All eleven counties on Montana's northern border will receive a combined $2 million to help pay for fuel, personnel, and equipment:

  • Lincoln County:  $460,000
  • Toole County:  $390,000
  • Flathead County:  $320,000
  • Hill County:  $150,000
  • Glacier County:  $150,000
  • Blaine County:  $130,000
  • Valley County:  $110,000
  • Phillips County:  $110,000
  • Sheridan County:  $80,000
  • Daniels County:  $70,000
  • Liberty County:  $60,000

Baucus and Tester said the State of Montana will receive an additional $6.17 million through the State Homeland Security Grant Program.  The program provides financial assistance to states to prepare for terrorist attacks. The money can be used to purchase equipment, protect critical infrastructure such as dams, and conduct training exercises for first responders.

 "This money is essential for keeping Montana safe and secure," said Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette.  "The counties on the northern border are our first line of defense and seeing them be eligible for this DHS money is great news. We appreciate all of Max's and Jon's efforts to shine light on the northern border."

"The northern border is too often forgotten or just plain excluded from federal funds," Baucus said. "We cannot allow Montana to become a backdoor to terrorists and criminals. This money will make a real difference in a places where it will do the most good for protecting our country while bringing good-paying jobs to northern Montana."

 "It is about time that the federal government started paying attention to the security needs of Montana's border counties," said Tester, a member of the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security. "These folks are often the only eyes on the border, and the federal government needs to do its part to form an effective security partnership with the folks on the ground in Montana."

Tester two weeks ago toured Montana's northern border from Plentywood to Havre, in part with the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, to bring attention to the border's security needs.

At a hearing in September of 2007, Baucus grilled the Customs and Border Patrol for allowing undercover investigators, some with simulated radioactive materials, to sneak into the country undetected. In June the Government Accountability Office release a report showing significant improvements in recent months, including hundreds more border patrol agents and better technology and document training.