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NorthWestern Energy and the Missouri-Madison River Fund Trust announce funding for 2022 public recreation improvement projects

Date: Apr 11, 2022

TYPE: News

Butte, Mont. – April 11, 2022 – NorthWestern Energy and the Missouri-Madison River Fund announced six public recreation improvement projects awarded grant and matching funds this year from the River Fund Trust and NorthWestern Energy.

Outdoor recreation along the Missouri and Madison rivers remains high and once again this funding is helping recreation managers improve and maintain visitor services to ensure recreationists have a positive experience, while also protecting Montana’s resources.

NorthWestern Energy’s $74,537 in funding and $248,133 from the Missouri-Madison River Fund will be combined with $476,330 from agency and project partners to complete six projects totaling $799,000 in 2022.

NorthWestern Energy will supplement the funds by contributing an additional $504,626 to state, federal and local agencies for operation and maintenance efforts at many existing recreation sites in 2022. These efforts were included in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project 2188 hydroelectric license in the 1990s to ensure public recreation sites, facilities and opportunities remain available long into the future.

“The Missouri and Madison rivers offer a wide variety of public recreation facilities and opportunities,” said NorthWestern Energy Hydropower License Compliance Manager Andy Welch. “NorthWestern Energy is pleased to support the efforts of a team of cooperative agencies for management of those facilities. Continued improvements will ensure those opportunities exist for future generations. NorthWestern Energy and its employees are proud to continue to support this collaborative private-public effort to improve recreation facilities and opportunities on these great rivers.”

  • On the Madison River and Ennis Lake, 24 developed recreation sites maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will have additional support from a Montana Conservation Corps crew for vault toilet cleaning and visitor education.
  • At the Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks a park-wide hazardous tree trimming project will be supported to ensure visitor safety.
  • In the Helena area, a bank stabilization project at Black Sandy State Park will include willow planting to stabilize an eroding shoreline that has decreased the size of the tent camping area.  Engineered steps will provide public access to the waterway amidst the willows along that shoreline area.
  • In Great Falls, the North Bank Stabilization project will address shoreline slumping along Black Eagle Reservoir that threatens a portion of the River’s Edge Trail and a city sewer main in Great Falls.
  • In the Great Falls area, the parking lot at the Lewis & Clark Overlook and a portion of the parking lot at Rainbow Overlook will be reconstructed.
  • In the Great Falls area, the parking lot at the Rainbow Trailhead will be improved to allow for drainage and re-routing of spring runoff water that has created large pot holes and frequent standing water in the lot.

Projects funded in 2022 raise the total to150 projects with $5.5 million in funding by the River Fund Trust and $1.4 million in matching funds from Northwestern Energy in the past 16 years.

River Fund grants and NorthWestern Energy matching funds have helped leverage public agency and partner funding to provide more than $11 million in public recreation improvements in the Missouri-Madison corridor.

The Missouri-Madison River Fund trust for public recreation, currently valued at $8.1 million, was created through the collaborative efforts of NorthWestern Energy; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Madison, Gallatin, Broadwater, Lewis & Clark, Cascade and Chouteau counties; and numerous other public and private partners. 

Created as a public-private partnership to meet public recreation needs along the Madison and Missouri rivers, the River Fund supports ongoing efforts to protect and enhance recreation from Hebgen Reservoir downstream to Fort Benton, excluding the Toston and Canyon Ferry hydroelectric plants and the river segment between them. River Fund awards for qualifying projects will continue on an annual basis, with grants awarded each December. 

A list of projects can be found in the River Fund segment of the Clean Energy - Hydropower section of NorthWestern Energy’s website at, as well as information about NorthWestern Energy and its hydroelectric facilities.

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About NorthWestern Energy (Nasdaq: NWE)

NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy, provides essential energy infrastructure and valuable services that enrich lives and empower communities while serving as long-term partners to our customers and communities. We are working to deliver safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors. This includes bridging our history as a regulated utility safely providing low-cost and reliable service with our future as a globally-aware company offering a broader array of services performed by highly-adaptable and skilled employees. We provide electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 753,600 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Yellowstone National Park. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002. More information is available on the company's Web site at


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