Tester Secures Full Custer Gallatin Flood Relief Funding

Road repair, federal disaster relief dollars from Tester-led FY23 federal budget

Following the catastrophic 2022 floods in southern Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured nearly $40 million in Federal Disaster Relief funding for the Custer Gallatin National Forest to repair roads, recreation-related facilitates, trails, trail bridges, and watershed-related locations.

Of the nearly $40 million in funding for Custer Gallatin National Forest, $16.9 million is supplemental disaster funding secured by Senator Tester in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Appropriations Bill. The remaining amount comes from the Emergency Repair of Federally Owned Roads (ERFO program).

“Southern Montana’s robust outdoor recreation economy was devastated by record flooding last summer, and this funding from our bill will go a long ways towards making our gateway communities whole,” said Tester. “Thousands of folks around the Custer Gallatin Forest rely on our great outdoors to make a living and support their families, but the damage to the forest’s infrastructure left many people hurting. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft a budget that makes these folks whole, and I’m happy to see that southern Montana is open for business.”

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester was responsible for crafting the FY23 Appropriations Bill that directed this funding to Custer Gallatin Forest. Of the nearly $40 million secured by Tester for repair work, $22.8 million will be used for transportation system repairs, and nearly $17 million will be used to repair recreation-related facilitates, trails, trail bridges and to complete watershed-related work. Funding will be administered through the Federal Disaster Relief program and the Federal Highways Administration which oversees the Emergency Repair of Federally Owned Roads (ERFO program).

2023 permanent repairs are expected for the following sites:

  • Beartooth Ranger District
    • East Rosebud Road (initially milepost 7.3) – completed in stages over the next 1-3 years (temporary access in 2023.)
    • Lake Fork Road Bridge
    • Westminster Spires Bridge
    • Stillwater Trailhead Reconstruction
    • Richel Lodge Bridge
    • Main Fork Rock Creek Road repairs to Glacier Lake Trailhead (excluding new bridges)
    • Lake Fork Trailhead Bridge
    • Snow Creek Bridge
  • Gardiner and Yellowstone Ranger District
    • Yankee Jim River Access and Joe Brown Trailhead (Gardiner)
    • Mill Creek and West Fork Mill Creek
    • Main Boulder Area Recreation Sites
  • Additional temporary repairs are anticipated for West Fork of Rock Creek Bridge, West Rosebud Road, East Rosebud Road, Woodbine Campground Bridge, upper Parkside Bridge and Hellroaring Creek Bridge (Main Fork Rock Creek Road). 

In December, 2022, Tester voted to pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which allocated $360 million for the Forest Service to respond to natural disasters, including $210 million for watershed restoration, critical habitat, and public access and $150 million for capital improvements, such as repairing roads.

Tester has fought tirelessly to ensure that rural communities affected by the flooding have the resources they need to get back on their feet. In July, Tester and his fellow members of the Montana delegation secured assurance from USFS that guides, outfitters, and small businesses would receive support and flexibility in finding alternative options to operate on public lands. And in June, Tester and his colleagues successfully urged the Federal Highway Administration to take immediate action and provide much needed funding through the FWHA Emergency Relief Program to areas affected by flooding resulting in $3 million in funding for Montana roads and highways. They also sent a letter to President Biden, which led to the approval of a major disaster declaration and activation of critical FEMA public assistance and support for recovery efforts.

The State of Montana submitted a disaster declaration request to the federal government on June 15, 2022 in response to major flooding across south-central Montana, which was approved by President Biden the next day. Severe weather has resulted in significant property damage to homes, businesses, roads, sewers, water systems, and Yellowstone National Park. Acting Governor Kirsten Juras declared a statewide disaster on June 14, 2022.