HELENA -- In the 1920’s, Missoula’s water utility commissioned several dams along the Rattlesnake River to provide drinking water during dry summers. The city later changed where it got its water, but the dams remained.

Removal of one of those dams -- the McKinley Lake Dam -- is one of several projects included in House Bill 6, which would continue funding for grants of up to $125,000 to cities, towns, irrigation districts, conservation districts and others for water, solar or wind infrastructure projects. Lawmakers on an appropriations subcommittee heard testimony on the proposals Monday.

Other projects include a proposal to add solar panels to the roof of an elementary school in Belgrade and restoring a trout spawning ground near Helena. 

Jim Simpson is the President of the Montana Association of Conservation Districts. He spoke on behalf of all 75 projects in the bill and joined the committee via Zoom.

“Since inception, RRGL grants have resulted in conservation work across the state,” Simpson said. “It’s hard to find a legislative district that has not benefited.”

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation distributes the grants, but needs legislative approval first.  

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.