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NorthWestern Energy announces 2021 funding for fisheries, wildlife and habitat enhancement projects on Madison and Missouri Rivers

Mar 15, 2021

Butte, Mont. – March 15, 2021 –NorthWestern Energy is providing $1.6 million this year to support 35 fisheries, wildlife and habitat improvement projects within the 550-mile corridor of the Madison-Missouri River from Yellowstone National Park to the headwaters of Fort Peck Reservoir. This year’s funding from NorthWestern Energy will leverage an additional $7.5 million in matching funds and in-kind donations from agencies, conservation organizations, and private landowners, resulting in a total of $9.1 million for fish and wildlife stewardship. 

“This program is a great example of cooperation between private industry; state, federal and local government; private landowners; and non-governmental conservation organizations to meet river conservation objectives,” said Andy Welch, NorthWestern Energy Manager of Hydro Licensing and Compliance..  “This year we are partnering with 8 government agencies, 4 private landowners, one state university, and 9 non-government conservation groups on a variety of projects.”

Because NorthWestern Energy funding is a private source, it can be used for habitat project surveys, planning and designs that help to secure matching funds from state and federal grant programs.

The stewardship program began in 2000, shortly after the federal license that oversees operation of the company’s nine hydro dams on the Madison and Missouri rivers was issued. The program also includes annual monitoring programs for birds, fish and plants. 

The largest projects in 2021 include the Lone Tree Conservation Easement south of Big Sandy. NorthWestern Energy is purchasing native species grass seed that will return cultivated fields back to habitat for wildlife. A similar project is the Whiskey Ridge Conservation easement north of Winifred. Last year NorthWestern Energy provided funding for the purchase of the easement and this year funds will be used for fencing and water supply equipment. Two stream restoration projects were funded, one at O’Dell Creek in the Madison River valley and another on Beaver Creek downstream of Hauser Dam. Four separate projects on the Madison River will address streambed and streambank stability.

Recovery of endangered and sensitive species is another key part of the NorthWestern Energy programs and several projects are planned to enhance and/or monitor pallid sturgeon, sicklefin chub, sturgeon chub, westslope cutthroat trout, trumpeter swans, migratory songbirds and bald eagles.               

Fish and wildlife population monitoring is another important part of this program and continued funding for long-term monitoring on the Madison and Missouri rivers and reservoirs was approved.

“Fish population monitoring occurs on some of the state’s top river and reservoir fisheries over more than 500 miles of river” said Welch. “We work very closely with the state and federal agencies to maintain long-term databases which helps evaluate the status of fish and wildlife and their habitats.” 

Information on the annual fish and wildlife programs can be viewed on the Environmental Stewardship At Our Hydro Projects tab at:

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About NorthWestern Energy (Nasdaq: NWE)
NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy, provides electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 734,800 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. We have generated and distributed electricity in South Dakota and distributed natural gas in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and have generated and distributed electricity and distributed natural gas in Montana since 2002. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's Web site at
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