Jun 19, 2023

Renewable energy grants awarded to state; Water quality monitoring equipment found

Rural businesses get awarded $1.3 million to improve energy efficiencyMontana Public Radio | By Shaylee Ragar

Rural businesses and agriculture producers in Montana have been awarded $1.3 million in federal grants to become more energy efficient.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants Wednesday, funded through the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress. According to a news release from the department, the grants aim to encourage wider use of renewable energy for its environmental and cost-saving benefits.

Grants ranging from $5,000 to $80,000 will go to 35 recipients from Glasgow to Charlo. Much of the funding will go towards adding solar panels to barns and workshops. Others, like an assisted living facility in Choteau, will use the money to pay for energy efficient doors, windows, lighting, insulation and a new boiler system.

All projects are expected to save the businesses and producers upwards of $1,000 annually in utility costs.

Missing Big Hole River equipment has been foundMontana Public Radio | By John Hooks

A nonprofit organization monitoring water quality in the Jefferson Basin said an anonymous tip led them to recover a piece of expensive monitoring equipment that went missing from the Big Hole River last week.

According to Wade Fellin with Save Wild Trout, the device, which sat in the river channel weighed down with cinder blocks, had been cut loose and placed in streamside willows above the bank.

The group placed eight monitoring devices throughout the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby and Jefferson rivers earlier this month to collect water quality data they hope can supplement state research into a historic die-off of trout throughout the basin.

Fellin said vehicles belonging to fishing guides and outfitters have also been tampered with at fishing access sites this summer.