DOJ: News Release

Grant Funds Available for Clark Fork Restoration

HELENA – Applications for $6 million in 2001 grant funds for projects to restore the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB) are now available, Governor Judy Martz and Attorney General Mike McGrath jointly announced Tuesday.

“We are pleased that more money has become available for the restoration of the Clark Fork River. Whether one lives near this river, or not, it is an important part of Montana’s heritage, it’s livelihood and our future,” Governor Martz said. “Montana will only be as vibrant as our dedication and our actions to protect, reclaim and preserve our precious natural resources. The restoration projects involving the Clark Fork River demonstrate our collective pledge to learn from the lessons of our history and our determination to move forward with a commitment and a practice of good stewardship.”

The restoration projects will be funded with interest generated from the $130 million Restoration Fund established by the state from settlement of several portions of its lawsuit against ARCO. The suit sought compensation for damage to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin caused by decades of mining and smelting in the Butte and Anaconda areas by ARCO and its predecessors.

Government agencies, private entities and individuals may apply for grant funds for projects that will restore or replace the natural resources in the basin. Grant funds may also be used for developing future grant proposals or for conducting monitoring and research related to restoration of natural resources in the basin. Only projects that would be located in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin are eligible for funding.

“Having grown up in Butte, I fully appreciate how important it is that we finally make some lasting environmental progress,” McGrath noted, “We’re looking forward to seeing some good proposals that will allow the public to once again enjoy this area.”

Last year’s “pilot” grant cycle concluded with Governor Racicot approving approximately $7 million to fund eight projects. Restoration Program Chief Carol Fox said she considers the pilot year a success, both in starting to return the basin to a healthy ecosystem and in identifying improvements in the grant process.

“In this second year of the restoration grants, we’re basically relying on the same framework we established last year in the state’s Restoration Plan Procedures and Criteria,” Fox noted. “But we will be working with the citizen Advisory Council, the Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council and others on improving the process.” Fox also said that the public would have the opportunity to comment on any proposed changes, probably late this year.

Once the second round of applications is in, the Natural Resource Damage Program will consult with various governmental agencies and the UCFRB citizen Advisory Council to prepare draft funding recommendations. These recommendations will then be considered by the Trustee Restoration Council, which consists of the governor’s chief of staff, directors of the state’s three natural resource agencies, the attorney general, and the chairman of the advisory council. After a public comment period, the Trustee Restoration Council will make recommendations to the Governor, who is expected to make final funding decisions in December 2001.

Applications for the 2001 Restoration Grant Cycle are due to Montana’s Natural Resource Damage Program on or before March 16, 2001. Two application forms are available — a long form for applicants requesting more than $10,000 and a short form for applicants requesting $10,000 or less.

Applications and guidance materials are available upon request from the Natural Resource Damage Program at 444-0205 or electronically on the Department of Justice Website.

The State will hold workshops for those interested in applying for Restoration Grants at the following times and locations:

Tuesday, February 6, 2001 – Anaconda Community Service Center, 9:00 a.m.- Noon

Wednesday, February 7, 2001 – Butte Ramada Copper King Inn, 9:00 a.m.- Noon

Monday, February 12, 2001 – Missoula Public Library, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Anyone interested in attending one of the workshops should contact Kathy Coleman at 444-0205 or e-mail at kcoleman@mt.gov.

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