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Future Fisheries Fact Sheet

General Facts


The 1995 Montana Legislature passed the Future Fisheries Improvement Program to restore essential habitats for the growth and propagation of wild fish populations in lakes, rivers and streams. In 1999, the Legislature expanded the Program by adding funding from the Resource Indemnity Trust Fund and directing a portion of the funding to projects that specifically enhance bull trout and cutthroat trout, with emphasis on mineral reclamation projects. The 2013 Legislature amended the scope of projects funded by the Resource Indemnity Trust Fund to include all of Montana's native fish.


Funds used to implement the Future Fisheries Improvement Program originate from the sale of Montana fishing licenses. A portion of the funding also comes from a portion of the interest generated from Montana's Resource Indemnity Trust Fund (RIT).


Good projects benefiting wild fish, originating from virtually any source, will be considered for funding.

Use of Funds

Program funding may be provided for costs of design/build, construction, and maintenance of projects that restore, enhance or protect habitat for wild fishes. Funding cannot be used for administration, coordination, overhead, monitoring or contingency costs. Preference will be given to projects that restore habitats for native fishes. Preference using RIT funds will be given to qualified mineral reclamation projects that benefit native fish. Future Fisheries funding cannot be used for watershed assessments, grant/project administration or coordination purposes.

How to Apply and When

Applications must be made on forms available from Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) regional offices located in Kalispell, Missoula, Bozeman, Great Falls, Billings, Glasgow, and Miles City or from the Fisheries Division office in Helena. Application forms are also available online.

Contact the Fisheries Division in Helena (444-2449) if you need help filling out the application form or developing a project proposal.

Projects usually are reviewed in the field by a FWP representative prior to being considered for funding. Contact the FWP office in Helena (444-2449) to schedule a site visit.

Applications may be submitted at any time but are reviewed and scored twice each year. Applications must be received before December 1 and June 1 of each year to be considered for the subsequent funding period. Applications must be sent to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Habitat Protection Section, Fisheries Bureau, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. We strongly encourage applicants to submit their applications in two formats – one hard copy and one electronic copy. We will post all applications that we receive onto our Web site to provide the opportunity for public review and comment.

Project Facts

Project Eligibility

Project proposals will be screened for eligibility by an independent review panel. To be eligible, the applicant must demonstrate that the project:

  • Will accomplish one or more of the items listed below:
    • Improve or maintain fish passage;
    • Restore or protect naturally functioning stream channels or banks;
    • Restore or protect naturally functioning riparian areas;
    • Prevent loss of fish into diversions;
    • Restore or protect essential habitats for spawning;
    • Enhance stream flow in a dewatered reach to improve fisheries;
    • Restore or protect genetically pure native fish populations;
    • Improve fishing in a lake or reservoir;
    • Other projects that restore or protect habitat for wild fish populations.
  • Will be conducted with approval of the landowner on whose property the project is being completed;
  • Will not interfere with water or property rights of adjacent landowners;
  • Is most appropriately funded through this program.

Project Selection

An independent review panel will evaluate eligible projects. The following criteria will be used to evaluate projects:

  • Public benefits to wild fisheries
  • Long-term effectiveness
  • Benefits to native fish species
  • Expected benefits relative to cost
  • In-kind services or cost-sharing
  • Importance of the lake or stream
  • Local support and participation
  • Improve fishing in a lake or reservoir;
  • Sensitive to needs to other wildlife species (i.e., wildlife friendly fencing

The review panel and FWP will submit a list of recommended projects to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for consideration at public hearings conducted as part of their regularly scheduled Commission meetings. Final project approval is the responsibility of the Commission.

Project Administration

Each approved project sponsor must enter into a written agreement with FWP. Funds granted for projects must be used only for purposes described in the final project agreement. Itemized invoices of expenses and receipts approved by the applicant must be submitted to FWP for payment.

Evaluating Project Success

Each completed project will be monitored to insure project compliance and evaluate the public benefits of the project to wild fisheries.