By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

City approves MOU with Headwaters Economics


September 16, 2020

The Three Forks City Council approved last week a Memorandum of Understanding with Headwaters Economics to assist the City with flood mitigation solutions.

Based out of Bozeman and Helena, Headwaters Economics is an independent, nonprofit research group that works to improve community development and land management decisions.

Kristin Smith of Headwaters is heading up their new flood program that will help communities think about flood risk and mitigation strategies. She said they are new to the flooding area but are modeling the program after their work with natural hazards including extensive work with fires.

Headwaters Economics Associate Director Patricia Hernandez Gude told the Council they have work on fire assistance with 70 communities over the past five years.

In her discussion with the Council, Smith said she has been in conversation with City Clerk Crystal Turner and Treasurer Kelly Smith and is in the process of thinking what a partnership with Three Forks might look like.

Kristin Smith said they are looking at how they can help communities meet their needs, provide technical assistance and custom research, all free of charge to the community.

The new Headwaters flood program kicked off in January and Kristin Smith thought they might be out working with people on the Mississippi River who experienced flooding last year, but COVID disrupted that plan. She said they instead started looking closer to home to work with communities and that is where Three Forks popped into mind. She added this could be a good time for Three Forks to join with them because they are going through updating their growth policy.

Kristin Smith discussed a possible starting point for Three Forks could be hiring Great West Engineering to assist them with what some engineering solutions might look like and that report would include benefits and costs. She added Great West is very aware of permitting processes and there would include community engagement.

Kristin Smith told the Council the money they could offer to get assistance from Great West could be around $50,000.

Gude said moving forward with Headwaters seems like a pretty decent starting point and if there were one or two really promising mitigation actions that could really change risk.

Council member Erin Schattauer said this sounds like a really great opportunity for Three Forks and it could be a really great partnership.

Kelly Smith said they are really excited to work with Headwaters and think this will be really good.


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