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 (NRDP) announced Friday.
“We are starting the tenth year of the grant program aimed at returning the Basin to a healthy ecosystem,” Coleman said. “This year, up to $15 million is available to fund grant projects approved by the governor.”
Grant applications for over $25,000 must be received by Friday, March 20, 2009. Grant applications for $25,000 or less may be submitted on a continuous basis throughout the year. Applicants requesting more than $25,000 must complete a long-form application, whereas applicants requesting $25,000 or less use a short-form version.
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.
Applications and guidance materials are available through the Natural Resource Damage Program at (406) 444-0205 or electronically on the Department of Justice website at www.doj.mt.gov/lands/naturalresource/grantapplications.asp
NRDP will hold a workshop for those interested in applying for restoration grants on Wednesday, Feb. 11 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We strongly encourage all prospective applicants to attend our workshop,” Coleman said. “We will cover the basics of the application process in the morning and then meet individually with grant applicants to provide more detailed assistance on their particular application in the afternoon.”
Once the applications are received, the Natural Resource Damage Program consults with various government agencies and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Advisory Council to prepare draft funding recommendations. These recommendations are then 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 make recommendations to the governor, who is expected to make final funding decisions on proposals over $25,000 in December 2009. The Trustee Restoration Council makes final funding decisions on proposals of $25,000 or less.
The restoration grant projects are 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. An additional $68 million obtained through a 2008 settlement is dedicated to restoration of specific injured sites in the Basin. 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 $67.5 million has been awarded to 90 grant projects that will improve the Basin’s fish and wildlife habitat and populations, public recreation opportunities, and public drinking water supplies.