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NorthWestern Energy and The Missouri-Madison River Fund Trust 2023 public recreation projects

Date: Feb 21, 2023

TYPE: News

Butte, Mont. – Feb. 21, 2023 –NorthWestern Energy and the Missouri-Madison River Fund announced nine public recreation improvement projects awarded grant and matching funds by the River Fund Trust and NorthWestern Energy.

NorthWestern Energy’s $196,500 in funding and $511,538 from the the Missouri-Madison River Fund will be combined with $361,928 from agency and project partners to complete nine projects totaling more than $1 million in 2023.

NorthWestern will supplement these funds by contributing an additional $539,023 to state, federal, and local agencies for operation and maintenance work at existing recreation sites in 2023. These efforts were included in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project 2188 hydroelectric license in the 1990s to ensure that public recreation sites, facilities, and opportunities remain available long into the future.

“NorthWestern Energy and its employees are proud to support the Missouri-Madison River Fund Trust, a unique private-public partnership to improve and maintain public recreation facilities and opportunities on these great rivers,” said NorthWestern Energy Hydropower License Compliance Manager Andy Welch. “Public recreation sites on the Madison and Missouri rivers offer a wide variety of facilities and opportunities, ranging from primitive sites with few amenities to developed sites with all the amenities and everything in between. Continued improvements will ensure that those opportunities exist for future generations.”

At the Craig fishing access site on the Missouri River, overflow parking will be developed on leased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad property.

“Lack of parking for anglers and recreationists utilizing the access site in Craig has been an ongoing issue for many years,” said Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Andy Hunthausen. “Lewis and Clark County is proud to be part of a creative solution and to partner with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and BNSF on this important project to reduce parking congestion within the town area.”

Other 2023 projects are:

  • On Ennis Lake’s west shore, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will expand camping opportunities and improve carry-in watercraft access at Meadow Lake Fishing Access Site.
  • At Trapper Springs along the Lower Madison River the Bureau of Land Management will drill a new well to continue to provide drinking water to site visitors and area recreationists.
  • At Devil’s Elbow Campground and Clark’s Bay day-use site on Hauser Lake the Bureau of Land Management will drill new wells to continue to provide drinking water to site visitors and area recreationists.
  • Solar arrays will be installed by the Bureau of Land Management at three developed campgrounds on Hauser Lake and Holter Lake to power administration buildings at the sites.
  • Deteriorated sections of the popular Beaver Creek Trail between Hauser Dam and Beaver Creek Access Site will be restored and upgraded by the US Forest Service, with cooperation from the Montana Conservation Corps.
  • Paved surfaces of ADA-accessible pathways within Riverside Campround at the very upper end of Hauser Lake will be upgraded by the Bureau of Reclamation.
  • In Great Falls, the existing drinking water fountain along the River’s Edge Trail near the south end of Black Eagle Dam will be upgraded by the City of Great Falls Park and Recreation Department to include a water bottle filling station and a dog water bowl.
  • In Great Falls, 20,000 River’s Edge Trail maps will be printed for free distribution to the public with support from the River Fund, NorthWestern Energy and other project partners.

In addition, dock and vault toilet improvement projects at Hebgen Lake, delayed in 2022 because of resource limits that resulted from historic flooding in Montana, will be completed this year.

On the Lower Madison at Warms Spring Access, a boat ramp replacement will be completed this summer.

Kiosk upgrades at Forest Service sites in the Gates of the Mountains corridor will also be finished this year.

Projects funded in 2023 raise the tally to 160 projects, with $6 million in funding by the River Fund Trust and $1.6 million in matching funds from NorthWestern Energy in the past 17 years.

River Fund grants and NorthWestern Energy matching funds have helped leverage public agency and partner funding to provide more than $12 million in public recreation improvements in the Missouri-Madison corridor.

The Missouri-Madison River Fund trust for public recreation, currently valued at $7 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 and 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.

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 764,200 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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Jo Dee Black