Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NRDP Funds Proposed for New Projects

The State of Montana’s Natural Resource Damages Program (NRDP) administers Clark Fork restoration settlement funds through an annual grant process. Montana's governor makes the final funding decisions on grant projects. The UCFRB Remediation and Restoration Advisory Council advises the governor on the restoration process and funding. To date, NRDP has funded 91 projects that help make the basin's natural resources healthy and provide opportunities for the public to enjoy these resources. The NRDP has been a major funder of CFWEP.

The following projects are proposed for funding in 2010, listed by applicant and project name, followed by a short project description and project costs requested from NRDP and other sources:
  • Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, Anaconda System-wide Metering Project: Install water meters on all 2,642 un-metered water system connections over 2 years to achieve system-wide metering, conserve water supply, and replace lost groundwater resources.
    NRDP funding: $3,622,708. Other funding: $253,961.
  • Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, Anaconda Waterline – Year 9: Replace 12,200 feet of leaking waterline in Anaconda. This is the 9th year of continuing waterline replacement projects.
    NRDP funding: $2,644,390. Other funding: $220,386.
  • Butte-Silver Bow, Big Hole River Pump Station Replacement Project: Replace the deteriorated Big Hole Pump Station, which is part of the Big Hole water system that supplies drinking water to Butte.
    NRDP funding: $3,500,000. Other funding: $500,000.
  • Butte-Silver Bow, Big Hole Transmission Line – Year 4: Replace 20,000 feet of the leaking Big Hole Transmission Line, which supplies drinking water to Butte. This is the 4th year of a continuing waterline replacement project.
    NRDP funding: $2,760,000. Other funding: $690,000.
  • Butte-Silver Bow, Butte Waterline – Year 10: Replace 13,000 feet of leaking waterline in Butte and install 500 meters in un-metered homes. This is the 10th year of a continuing waterline replacement project and the 2nd year of voluntary meter installations.
    NRDP funding: $1,817,546. Other funding: $201,950.
  • Clark Fork Coalition, Racetrack Creek Flow Restoration Project: Secure the right to maintain and enhance in-stream flow for the benefit of the fishery resource of Racetrack Creek, a tributary of the Upper Clark Fork River.
    NRDP funding: $500,000. Other funding: $515,000.
  • Deer Lodge Conservation District, 2010 Native Plant Materials: Continue to select and market superior-performing native plant materials well adapted to the conditions of mining-impacted areas in the UCFRB and provide certified seed and plants to commercial seed growers and conservation seedling nurseries (4 year project).
    NRDP funding: $252,279. Other funding: $81,000.
  • East Ridge Foundation with U.S. Forest Service, Maud S Canyon Trails and Open Space Project: Increase recreational opportunities by conducting land acquisition, land reclamation, and trail development activities in Maud S Canyon east of Butte.
    NRDP funding: $355,920. Other funding: $132,295.
  • Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Centers, Inc., Knowledge Resource Mining in the UCFRB: Develop a “tool” that will allow for immediate access to and analysis of the data collected in the UCFRB over the years by various entities using a GIS-user interface and provide links to the governing documents with that data.
    NRDP funding: $376,160. Other funding: $66,815.
  • Skyline Sports and Butte-Silver Bow, Children’s Fishing Pond/Hillcrest Open Space Project: Develop a children’s fishing pond, repair the riparian and upland areas, create an outdoor educational component, and develop trails in the Hillcrest open space area east of
    NRDP funding: $1,566,998. Other funding: $770,136.
  • The University of Montana (Flathead Lake Biological Station and Montana Tech), Restoration, Nutrients, and Green River Bottoms: Initiate and conduct monitoring over 2 years to evaluate the relationships between nutrients, algae and macrophytes, and river processes that produce and consume oxygen along restored and unaltered portions of the Upper Clark Fork River.
    NRDP funding: $268,367. Other funding: $73,826.
  • Watershed Restoration Coalition, 2010 Cottonwood Creek: Improve aquatic and riparian habitat in lower Cottonwood Creek by increasing in-stream flows, improving fish passage, and enhancing riparian habitat.
    NRDP funding: $289,647. Other funding: $169,484.

Additionally, there are currently two proposals for uses of NRDP funds outside of the normal grant process. The first is for the roughly $17 million purchase by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) of the 28,000 acre Spotted Dog Ranch near Deer Lodge. Funding for the proposed aquisition would come from the principal balance of the NRDP account, known as the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Fund. Under public ownership, the ranch would become a Wildlife Management Area.

Also being considered is a proposal to fund a new museum dedicted to mining, reclamation and culture in Butte. Estimates vary, but roughly $30-40 million dollars of the restoration principal is being considered for the museum.

Funded or not, these two proposals will have a significant impact on future management of Clark Fork restoration dollars. As of Oct. 1, 2009, the restoration fund had a balance of $170 million, with about $48 million of that cash already committed to approved grant projects but not yet spent. In other words, if funded, these two projects combined would spend out roughly a third of the restoration fund principal.

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