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NorthWestern Energy announces 2018 funding for fisheries, wildlife and habitat projects on Madison and Missouri Rivers

Jan 22, 2018

Butte, Mont. – January 22, 2018 – As part of its commitment to river stewardship and conservation, NorthWestern Energy (NWE) is providing $1.5 million in 2018 to support 47 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 stewardship program was initiated in 2000 in cooperation with state and federal resource agencies to monitor and offset effects from the nine hydroelectric projects we operate on the Madison and Missouri Rivers," said Andy Welch, Leader -- Hydro Licensing and Compliance for NWE.

"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," he said. "This year we will be collaborating with nine different government agencies, five private landowners, one state university, and 14 different non-governmental conservation groups on a variety of projects. A big advantage is that we (NWE) provide private funds, which often qualifies as seed money to secure matching funds from state and federal grant programs."

This year's funding from NWE will leverage an additional $3.2 million in matching funds and in-kind donations from agency and private partners, resulting in a total of $4.7 million for river resource stewardship.

Habitat protection and improvement on rivers and tributaries is a high priority for the program and projects are planned this year to enhance and restore habitat at three locations on the Missouri River and on seven tributary streams from Hebgen Lake to Great Falls. Funding will likely be provided for two conservation easements to permanently protect habitat along five miles of Missouri River frontage downstream from Fort Benton.

A major project to restore approximately five acres of wetlands and enhance aquatic habitat along 4,050 feet of O'Dell Creek along the Madison River is planned. Habitat restoration work at O'Dell has made tremendous progress, with 723 acres of wetlands (a 438 percent increase) and 11 miles of prime spring creek aquatic habitat restored since work began there in 2005.

Continued funding will be provided to restore riverside cottonwood groves in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and to reduce grizzly bear conflicts in the Hebgen Lake area.

Recovery of endangered and sensitive species is another key part of the NWE programs and several projects are planned to enhance and/or monitor pallid sturgeon, trumpeter swans, westslope cutthroat trout, arctic grayling, migratory songbirds, blue suckers, bald eagles, and mountain whitefish. Fish and wildlife population monitoring is also an important part of this program and continued funding for long-term monitoring on the Madison and Missouri rivers and reservoirs was approved.

"Monitoring is a huge challenge in such a large and diverse system, including nine reservoirs and more than 500 miles of river," said Welch. "We provide substantial funding and work very closely with the state and federal agencies to maintain excellent long-term fish and wildlife databases which provide useful management information and gauge the overall health of the system".

About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 709,600 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at

Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081


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