Skip to main content
Go to search page

ABOUT FWP MENU

Fly fishing a Montana stream

About FWP Future Fisheries Improvement Program Grants

Recent Funding Applications

The Future Fisheries Improvement Program grant applications are reviewed and processed in December 1st and June 1st. 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.

The Future Fisheries Citizen Review Panel typically meets in mid-June and mid-December to formulate funding recommendations for the respective biennial funding cycles. Environmental assessments are completed for projects when necessary, and can be viewed under Public Notices when they are released. Review Panel funding recommendations are forwarded to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for final action during their regularly scheduled meetings held in August and February (corresponding to the June and December funding cycles, respectively). Public involvement is encouraged throughout the entire review and funding process. 

About the Program

For almost 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 $350,000 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.

Future Fisheries applications are due before December 1 and June 1 of each year, and are subsequently considered for funding. An independent citizen review panel evaluates all applications and makes funding recommendations to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.

Application Guidelines & Requirements

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 Program, including (but is not limited to) landowners, anglers, civic groups, conservation districts, or governmental agencies.

Application Requirements

Talk to your regional fisheries biologist about your project idea prior to filling out an application. Contact the Future Fisheries Program Officer at (406) 444-2432 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., 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 involving channel restoration must include at least the minimum design information as described in: Future Fisheries Design Guidelines.
  • 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.

A full list of application forms is located below.

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, watershed assessments, design alone, travel, or contingency costs. Preference will be given to projects that restore habitats for native fishes.

Funding Limits

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 Improvement Program Officer (406) 444-2432 for more information on projected funding.

Submitting Applications

Submit applications to the Future Fisheries Program Officer at the FWP headquarters in Helena. They must be received prior to December 1 or June 1 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; please contact the Future Fisheries Program Officer at the contact information below.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Fisheries Division
1420 E. Sixth Ave.
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

Email: Michelle McGree

(406) 444-2432

Funding Sources

Funding comes from two sources: 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 the sale of fishing licenses; only projects that meet native species criteria can be eligible for RIT funds.

Approval & Facilitation

The Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP) accepts applications twice a year for winter and summer funding cycles, with deadlines before December 1 or June 1, respectively. For more information on the process from submission to facilitation, see the information below.

1. Project Applications Submitted (Before June 1 or December 1)

Applications are submitted to the Future Fisheries Program Officer at the FWP headquarters in Helena. They must be received prior to December 1 or June 1 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; please contact the Future Fisheries Program Officer at the contact information below.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Fisheries Division
1420 E. Sixth Ave.
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

mmcgree@mt.gov

(406) 444-2432

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 biennial meetings.

2. Review Panel Considers Applications (mid-June or mid-December)

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 biennial 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 to the June and December 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 June and December funding cycles, respectively).

Current Review Panel Members

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 Program Officer 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
  • 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
  • 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 would provide a method for the Fish & Wildlife Commission to determine final funding decisions.

3. Evaluation of Effects on the Environment

To comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), each project is evaluated for environmental impacts. Typically, environmental assessments (EAs) are prepared for all projects approved for funding by the Citizen Review Panel and include a public comment period, except for projects that fall under categorical exclusion (ARM Rule 12.2.454) or NEPA. If the project is a component of a larger proposed action that involves a more lengthy process, EAs are occasionally completed after Commission action. If you have a project that may receive funding, the Future Fisheries Improvement Program officer will contact you regarding the EA.

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.

4. Project Approval

Project funding recommendations prepared by the Review Panel are presented to the Fish & Wildlife Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting in March (winter cycle) or August/September (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 Program Officer if they have questions.

5. Project Facilitation

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 Program Officer 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 Program Officer. 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 Program Officer 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 Program Officer (406) 444-2432 with any questions, concerns, or problems.

Public Involvement

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 (June and December grant deadlines):

  1. Comment on project applications. After the deadlines close, applications will be posted on the Future Fisheries main web page in early December and early June.
  2. Attend a Future Fisheries Review Panel meeting. The Review Panel meets in mid-December and late June to make funding recommendations that will be presented to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
  3. Comment on proposed project environmental assessments (EAs). Each project that the Review Panel recommends for funding undergoes an EA, unless it is covered under a categorical exclusion (ARM Rule 12.2.454). EAs will be dispersed and posted on the FWP website under Public Notices.
  4. Attend the Fish & Wildlife Commission meetings when Future Fisheries funding is discussed (typically late August and March) to voice your opinion.

Submit Comments

There are several ways to submit comments:

  1. Email: Michelle McGree
  2. Phone (406) 444-2432 to provide comments or obtain additional information on public involvement opportunities.

 

Legislative Reports

The Future Fisheries Improvement Program prepares a detailed report to each regular session of the Montana Legislature summarizing program progress. Click on the year below to view completed biennial Reports to the Legislature and Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.

Future Fisheries Legislative Reports

2019

Previous Years

Monitoring

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 Program Officer has taken responsibility for directing a monitoring program. The monitoring program includes Future Fisheries-focused efforts by the Program Officer or other 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 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.

Program Monitoring Reports

Related Publications & Reports