Applications Available for Clark Fork Restoration Grants
HELENA – Applications for grant proposals to restore the Upper Clark Fork River Basin are now available, Kathleen Coleman, Program Specialist for the Natural Resource Damage Program announced Monday.
“We are starting the ninth year of the grant program aimed at returning the basin to a healthy ecosystem,” Coleman said. “This year, up to $20 million is available to fund grant projects approved by the governor. This year’s funding cap is significantly higher than it has been in the past.”
Grant applications for over $25,000 must be received by Friday, April 4. Grant applications for $25,000 or less may be submitted on a continuous basis throughout the year. Applicants requesting more than $25,000 must use a long-form application, and there is a short-form application for applicants requesting $25,000 or less.
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, research and education activities 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, subject to limited exceptions.
The NRDP will hold a workshop for those interested in applying for restoration grants. “We strongly encourage all prospective applicants to attend this workshop,” Coleman said. “We will cover the basics of the application process in the morning and then provide more detailed information on the application and criteria in the afternoon.”
This year’s workshop is Thursday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fairmont Hot Springs, 1500 Fairmont Road in Fairmont. Registration is required. To register, call (406) 444-0229 or email email@example.com.
Once the applications are received, the Natural Resource Damage Program will consult with various government agencies and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin 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 Advisory Council and Trustee Restoration Council will make recommendations to the governor, who is expected to make final funding decisions on proposals over $25,000 in December 2008. The Trustee Restoration Council makes final funding decisions on proposals of $25,000 or less.
The restoration projects will be funded with interest generated from the $130 million Restoration Fund established by the state in 1999 from settlement of several portions of its lawsuit against ARCO. The suit sought compensation for injuries 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. To date, about $55 million has been awarded to 74 grant projects that will improve the Basin’s fish and wildlife habitat and populations, public recreation opportunities, and public drinking water supplies.