Three Great Falls area recreation projects receive grants

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, including three in Great Falls.

The Rainbow/Lewis and Clark overlooks parking lot rehabilitation project has been awarded $190,000 with $144,695 from the River Fund; a $20,540 match from NorthWestern Energy; and $24,965 from agency and partner contributions.

The Rainbow Overlook parking lot was crack and slurry sealed in 2016 as part of the Rainbow Overlook landslide and site rehabilitation project, according to the grant application from Montana State Parks.

Portion of River’s Edge Trail closed for repairs

There was a major landslide in 2009 just below the Lewis and Clark Overlook and Trailhead and from 2010-2011, about $200,000 was approved for repairs. When that project was nearly complete, a second landslide occurred, requiring additional stabilization work. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had applied for grant funding before the second landslide to pave the parking lot, but those funds were diverted to stabilization work, according to the grant application.

The Rainbow Trailhead parking area spring mitigation total is $43,036, with $20,739 from the River Fund; $8,936 match from NorthWestern Energy and $13,361 from agency and partner contributions.

City planning River’s Edge Trail improvements

That project will address water that inundates the parking area in the spring and summer from seasonal springs by redirecting the water, according to the grant application.

The agency also approved $474,944 for the second phase of the River’s Edge Trail north shore stabilization project. The project is being funded with $30,000 from the River Fund; a $30,00 match from NorthWestern Energy; $356,208 from the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Hazard Mitigation Grant Program; and $58,736 from the City of Great Falls.

Park and Rec updates: Contract awarded to fix trail slide; park projects continuing; more on proposed joint pool facility

The goal of the project is to continue the stabilization project to eliminate erosion along the 765-foot stretch of the riverbank between the city wastewater treatment plant and the 9th Street North bridge.

The project includes riprap with blended soils/willows at the toe of the slope and a graded slope with erosion protection.

Last year, the city received a grant from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for the first phase of the project which is in the last stages of design and permitting, according to the application.

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, according to NorthWestern.

City receives FEMA grant for riverbank stabilization project

“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,” according to a release from NorthWestern.

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.

City gets $237k grant for repairs to River’s Edge Trail

NorthWestern Energy is also 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, according to a release from NorthWestern.

Projects funded in 2022 raise the total to 150 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.

A list of projects can be found on the River Fund page of the NorthWestern website.