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Missouri Headwaters State Park receives River Fund grant

A project to trim hazardous trees at Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks was one of six 2022 public recreation projects awarded grants and matching funds from the Missouri-Madison River Fund Trust and Northwestern Energy.

$248,133 from the Missouri-Madison River Fund, $74,537 from Northwestern Energy, and $476,330 for agency and project partners will be used to complete the 2022 projects totaling $799,000.

An application submitted by Park Ranger Riley Bell stated when the Missouri Headwaters Park was first created, trees were planted to provide shade for people to enjoy the areas, especially near the Gallatin River, in the picnic area.

"As time goes on, trees are losing tree branches and providing less shade to the public and producing a hazardous environment as people sit and enjoy the views as dead branches hang above them," Bell said. "The scope of this project would allow the park to hire a tree trimming company to come to the park and trim all the hazardous tree branches. The Park had a company out here in previous years, and the budget only allows it to do two or three trees a year. This grant would allow the park to protect the public more when they come to visit the area."

The proposed implementation of the project will be this spring-summer.

The total cost for the project is $12,480. The application requested $10,330 from the River Fund and $430 from NorthWestern Energy. The Park will provide $1,720 in funding.

According to a release, 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.

"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."

The 2022 funding will also help assist with additional support from the Montana Conservation Corp for vault toilet cleaning and visitor education at 24 developed recreation sites on the Madison River and Ennis Lake.

Over the past 16 years, a total of $5.5 million in funding from the River Fund Trust and $1.4 million in matching funds from Northwestern Energy has gone to 150 projects.


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.