The Future Fisheries Improvement Program grant applications are reviewed and processed in the summer (June) and winter (December). The public is encouraged to participate in the application review and become involved with the funding decisions.
All comments received will be forwarded to the Future Fisheries Citizen Review Panel and the Fish & Wildlife Commission for their consideration.
Funding applications are due on May 15 (summer cycle) and November 15 (winter cycle).
The Future Fisheries Citizen Review Panel meets in mid-June and mid-December to formulate funding recommendations for the respective biannual funding cycles. Review Panel funding recommendations are forwarded to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for final action during their August or February meetings (corresponding to the summer and winter funding cycles, respectively). Public involvement is encouraged throughout the entire review and funding process.
Recent funding applications and program guidance can be found in the sections below.
Current Application Forms
Application Form - Word (updated 2022)
Application Form - Fillable PDF (updated 2022)
*if the project involves water leasing or water salvage, please attach the water leasing questionnaire, found here
The Summer 2022 Future Fisheries Improvement Program grant application deadline was May 15, 2022. Applications and meeting materials will be posted as they are available.
The Citizen Review Panel will meet June 16, 2022 to discuss the applications and the Fish & Wildlife Commission will consider these projects at their August 2022 meeting.
2022 Summer Grant Applications
014-2022 Bighorn River side channel reactivation
Record of Decision (PDF)
Other meeting files
For over two decades, FWP's Future Fisheries Improvement Program has worked to restore rivers, streams, and lakes to improve and restore Montana's wild fish habitats. Between $500,000 and $650,000 are available each year for projects that revitalize wild fish populations. Any entity proposing a project that would benefit wild fish will be considered for funding.
The Future Fisheries Improvement has a summer and winter funding cycle each year. Applications must be recieved on or before May 15 and November 15 of for the summer and winter funding cycles, respectively, and are subsequently considered for funding. An independent citizen review panel evaluates all applications and makes funding recommendations to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
The Future Fisheries Improvement Program provides funding to projects that restore essential habitats for the growth and propagation of wild fish populations in lakes, rivers, and streams. Any entity with a good on-the-ground project that benefits wild fish can apply for funding through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program, including (but is not limited to) landowners, anglers, civic groups, conservation districts, or governmental agencies.
Talk to your regional fisheries biologist about your project idea prior to filling out an application. Contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator at (406) 444-2432 or email FWPFFIP@mt.gov if you are not sure whom to contact. The local biologist typically knows the limiting factors associated with fish populations in their management area.
Project applicants must also affirm that work would be conducted with the approval of the landowner on whose property the project is being completed, and would not interfere with water or property rights of adjacent landowners. Applications must be completed in entirety and signed by the applicant.
Applicants must demonstrate benefits to the public and accomplish one or more of the goals 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 to improve fisheries
Restore or protect native fish populations
Improve fishing in a lake or reservoir
Restore or protect habitat for wild fish populations in other ways
When completing an application, please be sure to include:
A plan-view map of the project site showing specific location(s) of planned restoration activities.
At a minimum, a support letter from the landowner (if the applicant differs from the landowner).
A statement or letter or support from the local FWP fisheries biologist.
A statement clearly identifying, under Section III.D. of the application, whether the recreational public will have unregulated access to the project site.
A clear and detailed project budget. Only budgets entered onto the Budget Template are accepted.
Budgets must clearly identify matching contributions by contributor, type (cash or in-kind services/materials), total amount, and whether or not funds have been secured or verified. Matching contributions are encouraged and make an application much more competitive.
In-kind services or wages of government agency personnel will not be considered as match.
Please include an explanation of how in-kind labor was calculated (e.g., hours and hourly rate used).
Check the math – Total project cost must equal the sum of the FFIP grant request and the total amount of matching contributions.
Project applications should include a preliminary design, unless a design/build is approved. An engineered design can be helpful, but other design types may be acceptable.
Applications involving installation of riparian fencing must ensure the project does not adversely affect wildlife species. Fencing guidelines are described in: Future Fisheries Fencing Guidelines.
Applications for water salvage or in-stream flow leasing must include completion of the Supplemental Questionnaire for Water Leasing or Water Salvage Projects.
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, watershed assessments, design alone, travel, or contingency costs. Funding cannot be used for the aquisition of land. Preference will be given to projects that restore habitats for native fishes.
There is no maximum grant amount per application. However, funding awards are subject to the grant money available, total project requests, and the application’s demonstration of program goals. Call the Future Fisheries Coordinator (406) 444-2432 or email FWPFFIP@mt.gov for more information on projected funding.
Submit applications to the Future Fisheries Coordinator at the FWP headquarters in Helena at FWPFFIP@mt.gov or the address below. They must be received on or before May 15 or November 15 to be considered for funding. Electronic submissions are encouraged, but they must be signed and dated. Hard copies are also acceptable, but we strongly encourage applicants to include a copy of the application and/or supporting materials in electronic copy format. Pre-project photos are required. Electronic large file transfer service is available.
Electronic File Transfer (for files over 10mb): https://transfer.mt.gov/ (send to email@example.com)
Contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator with questions at:Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Funding comes from three sources: a portion of big game preference point income, a portion of the sale of Montana fishing licenses and Resource Indemnity Trust (RIT) funds. All funding is determined by the legislative session and is allocated in two-year increments. The funding from the RIT fund is directed to projects that enhance native fish through habitat restoration, natural reproduction, and reductions in species competition. All projects may use funds generated from FWP license dollars; only projects that meet native species criteria can be eligible for RIT funds.
The Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP) accepts applications twice a year for the summer and winter funding cycles. For more information on the process from submission to facilitation, see the information below.
Submit applications to the Future Fisheries Coordinator at the FWP headquarters in Helena at FWPFFIP@mt.gov. They must be received on or before May 15 (summer cycle) or November 15 (winter cycle) to be considered for funding. Electronic submissions are encouraged, but they must be signed and dated. Hard copies are also acceptable, but we strongly encourage applicants to include a copy of the application and/or supporting materials in electronic copy format. Pre-project photos are required. Electronic large file transfer service is available. Contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator at:Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Electronic File Transfer (for files over 10mb): https://transfer.mt.gov/ (send to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Applications are sorted, sent to the Future Fisheries Citizen Review Panel, and posted on the Future Fisheries webpage to provide the opportunity for public review and comment. FWP staff submits funding recommendations and any public comments to the Citizen Review Panel for their consideration prior to their biannual meetings.
The Review Panel is composed of 14 individuals that represent various fields of expertise related to the Future Fisheries Program. Panel members are selected by the governor or a governor’s designee and serve two-year terms. This group typically meets in mid-June and mid-December to formulate funding recommendations for the respective biannual funding cycles. Review Panel funding recommendations are then forwarded to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for final action during their regularly scheduled meetings held in August and February (corresponding with the summer and winter funding cycles, respectively).
Review Panel funding recommendations are then forwarded to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for final action during their regularly scheduled meetings held in August and February (corresponding to the summer and winter funding cycles, respectively).
At the Review Panel meetings, each project application is reviewed and discussed before funding recommendations are made. To obtain information on the meeting location, date, and time, contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator at (406) 444-2432. Project applicants are encouraged to attend the Review Panel meeting to provide a brief description of the project and answer questions, but attendance is not required to receive funding.
Criteria that the FFIP review panel uses to evaluate projects include:
Public benefits to wild fisheries
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
Addressing the cause of degradation rather than the symptoms
Sensitivity to needs of other wildlife species (e.g., wildlife friendly fencing)
Projects recommended for funding by the Review Panel receive rankings by a three-person committee composed of two FWP staff personnel and a representative from the Review Panel. If the Review Panel funding recommendations exceed available funds, the rankings provide a method for the Review Panel or Fish & Wildlife Commission to determine final funding decisions.
To comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), each project is evaluated for environmental impacts. Environmental assessments (EAs) are prepared for all projects approved for funding and include a public comment period, except for projects that fall under categorical exclusion (ARM Rule 12.2.454) or NEPA. If you have a project that will receive funding, you are responsible for completing an EA; please contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator to discuss the process.
EAs that are distributed by FWP staff are posted on the FWP website under Public Notices during their respective comment periods. Notice of EA release is also sent to a distribution list including governmental agencies, environmental groups, project applicants, landowners, and other interested parties. Comments can be sent to FWP at the address above, or submitted via individual EAs on FWP’s Public Notices web page. The Future Fisheries Coordinator has all EA information on file, available upon request.
Project funding recommendations prepared by the Review Panel are presented to the Fish & Wildlife Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting in February (winter cycle) or August (summer cycle). The Commission then makes the final funding decisions for the proposed projects.
Once funding decisions are made, project agreements are created and sent to project applicants and landowners. Project agreements ensure that program funds are only used for the proposed work, and require that the investments are maintained for a minimum of 20 years. Damage caused by natural events is not the responsibility of the project applicant or landowner. Applicants are required to obtain the proper permits prior to construction. Please contact the local conservation district for guidance, or visit the Department of Natural Resources & Conservation website. Applicants can also contact the Future Fisheries Improvement Coordinator if they have questions.
When project agreements are signed and returned, FFIP funds are available to the applicant. Invoices, including documentation of work, may be sent to the Future Fisheries Coordinator for payment directly to contractors or reimbursement to project applicants. Copies of receipts or itemized bills must be provided to receive funds, showing evidence of work completed.
Before final invoices are paid, the applicant must have provided proper documentation of the completed project cost and matching funds, which should resemble the amounts outlined in the project application budget. Discrepancies must be communicated to the Future Fisheries Coordinator. Matching fund expenses may be dated up to one year prior to the application deadline.
The final 10% of the grant award will not be released until the Future Fisheries Coordinator or a designated FWP representative visits the site and verifies project completion. Photos of the completed project are required. Final project reports are not required, but are appreciated.
Future Fisheries funds are available for three years after funding approval. Extra or unexpended funds will be returned to the FFIP for future use. Project applicants or landowners should contact the Future Fisheries Coordinator (406) 444-2432 or email FWPFFIP@mt.gov with any questions, concerns, or problems.
We encourage the public to participate in funding decisions associated with the Future Fisheries Improvement Program. There are several ways to be involved in the Future Fisheries funding process for each application cycle:
Comment on project applications. After the deadlines close, applications will be posted on the Future Fisheries web page in early December and early June.
Attend a Future Fisheries Review Panel meeting. The Review Panel meets in mid-December and mid-June to make funding recommendations that will be presented to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
Comment on proposed project environmental assessments (EAs). Each project that the Review Panel recommends for funding undergoes an environmental assessment. Some are covered by a categorical exclusion (ARM Rule 12.2.454) or other processes, but others are dispersed and posted on the FWP website under Public Notices.
Attend the Fish & Wildlife Commission meetings when Future Fisheries funding is discussed (typically August and February) to voice your opinion.
There are several ways to submit comments:
Future Fisheries projects funding cannot be granted for monitoring practices; however, monitoring is an important component of project assessment. Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) 12.7.1206 states:
“Restoration projects shall be evaluated by either the applicant or the department according to terms stipulated in the project agreement. Monitoring will be conducted on each completed project at times agreeable to the landowner. The type and frequency of monitoring will be established by the department.”
Monitoring is an important component of determining project success and improving restoration techniques and methods over time. To ensure the best use of Program dollars, the Future Fisheries Coordinator has taken responsibility for directing a monitoring program. The monitoring program includes Future Fisheries-focused efforts by FWP staff, communication with aquatic biologists regarding their monitoring, and efforts completed by applicants or local watershed groups, conservation districts, or non-governmental organizations. Monitoring includes implementation monitoring (was the project completed as proposed) as well as effectiveness monitoring (how successful was the project long term).
There are nearly 600 completed Future Fisheries projects, and the goal is to monitor each one in partnership with applicants between 5 to 10 years after completion and at regular intervals thereafter until they expire (typically 20 years after completion).
Efforts that are exclusively focused on Future Fisheries projects are included in Legislative Reports. However, reports by FWP staff and consultants are also completed periodically. Links to other relevant reports and publications are included below; even though they are not specifically written for the Future Fisheries Improvement Program, they contain projects that were funded with Future Fisheries dollars.
Monitoring information and data are recorded in the Future Fisheries Improvement Program database, maintained by FWP. In the future, FWP intends to link this information with a public interface like FishMT.
Most of the monitoring information can be found within Future Fisheries Legislative Reports (see the Legislative Report section below). Other relevant monitoring reports and publications are posted as available.
Yellowstone Monitoring 2017:
Yellowstone Monitoring 2016:
Ron Pierce, Craig Podner, Tracy Wendt, Ron Shields & Kellie Carim (2014) Westslope Cutthroat Trout Movements through Restored Habitat and Coanda Diversions in the Nevada Spring Creek Complex, Blackfoot Basin, Montana, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 143:1, 230-239
David A. Schmetterling, Ronald W. Pierce & Bradley W. Liermann (2002): Efficacy of Three Denil Fish Ladders for Low-Flow Fish Passage in Two Tributaries to the Blackfoot River, Montana, North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 22:3, 929-933
The Future Fisheries Improvement Program prepares a detailed report to each regular session of the Montana Legislature summarizing program progress. More information can be found on the FWP Legislative Report page.
These reports are produced between legislative sessions to provide updates on Program activities.