Refuges, Fisheries to Get $280 Million Stimulus

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the nation’s wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries will receive $280 million in stimulus funds.

The announcement is the latest in a series about federal spending that will be managed by the Interior Department.

“I think our landscapes refuel what is best in the American spirit,” Salazar said in a press conference Sunday at Montana’s statehouse, with Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

The improvements made possible by the stimulus funding will create jobs, protect landscapes for future generations and boost tourism, Salazar said.

The stimulus funds to be distributed through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are marked for use in 770 building improvement and habitat restoration projects across the United States.

Refuges and hatcheries in Montana will receive about $3 million of the Interior Department’s stimulus spending.

“We will be the generation that gets to hand this magical place of Montana on to the next generation in better condition than we found it,” Schweitzer said at the press conference.

All told, 10 facilities managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are marked for improvements in the state:

– The National Bison Range will receive about $630,000 to replace a bridge.

– Ennis Fish Hatchery will receive $249,000 to install a photovoltaic system and Creston Fish Hatchery is marked for $540,000 for building improvements.

– Seven of Montana’s national wildlife refuges will get about $1.5 million for various improvements.

On Saturday, Salazar announced in North Dakota that the department will also channel $500 million in federal stimulus dollars to American Indian tribes.

Another $750 million in federal money is headed to the National Park Service.

An announcement about the department’s Bureau of Land Management stimulus programs is expected soon.

The federal spending is part of the $787 billion stimulus plan, signed by President Barack Obama in February.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.