In recognition of its successful fish ladder project at the Thompson Falls hydroelectric plant, PPL Montana on Tuesday (4/17) received an “Outstanding Steward of America’s Waters” award from the National Hydropower Association.
It’s the fifth time in 10 years that PPL Montana has received recognition from the National Hydropower Association for significant stewardship projects, including on the Madison and Missouri rivers, and at the Mystic Lake and Thompson Falls operations.
“This award recognizes companies for their accomplishments and creativity in balancing the importance of resource stewardship and the production of clean energy on our nation’s rivers,” said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association.
“PPL Montana and its employees have again demonstrated their success and dedication to protecting these rivers and their habitat, which are forever linked to the history of our country and are an important recreational, biological and cultural resource for Montanans and people from across America,” she said.
The award, nationally competitive and granted by a diverse panel of judges, was presented during the National Hydropower Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
“The award is a tribute to all PPL Montana employees who have been resourceful in building partnerships and in finding innovative ways to enhance Montana’s river resources,” said Jon Jourdonnais, manager of hydro licensing and compliance for PPL Montana, who accepted the award.
“The award also celebrates the good long-term working relationships we have with our Montana agencies and stakeholders,” he said. “PPL Montana has always believed that hydro business interests and outdoor resource interests can be compatible and lead to significant shared results.”
Dedicated in September 2010, the Thompson Falls fish ladder is the first full-length fish ladder in the continental United States specifically designed to accommodate bull trout, a federally listed threatened species. It’s also the tallest fish passage facility of its kind in Montana.
The steel and concrete ladder system has 48 step pools that permit fish to gradually ascend about 75 feet to the top of, and over, the dam. The first bull trout passed upstream through the new structure on April 26, 2011. Since then, thousands of native Montana trout and other fish species have used the ladder to reach the upper Clark Fork River system.
Funded entirely by PPL Montana, the $9 million fish ladder was built in collaboration with federal and state wildlife agencies and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and supports the company’s federal operating license in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
Advanced biological monitoring, trapping and tagging technology, and adaptive ladder operations will allow scientists to better support and enhance fish movement patterns and timing of runs in the Clark Fork River.
As part of the project, PPL Montana is improving public access and recreational facilities at Thompson Falls, including an observation deck for visitors to view fish ladder operations as well as pedestrian access to trails and other recreation sites on Island Park.
This fish ladder also received the 2011 Outstanding Group Achievement Award from the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in February.
Founded in 1983, the National Hydropower Association is a nonprofit national association dedicated to promoting the growth of clean, affordable U.S. hydropower. It seeks to secure hydropower’s place as a climate-friendly, renewable and reliable energy source that serves national environmental, energy and economic policy objectives. NHA represents more than 180 companies in the North American hydropower industry, from Fortune 500 corporations to family-owned small businesses.
The association established its national award program in 1999 to recognize members of the hydroelectric industry that protect the nation’s rivers and champion hydropower as a key part of the nation’s energy future.
PPL Montana provides safe, reliable energy from coal-fired power plants at Colstrip and Billings, as well as 11 hydroelectric plants along West Rosebud Creek and the Missouri, Madison, Clark Fork and Flathead rivers. It has a combined generating capacity of more than 1,200 megawatts and has offices in Billings, Butte and Helena. PPL Montana and its 500 employees are dedicated to Montana and its communities, supporting educational, environmental and economic development programs across the state. PPL EnergyPlus operates a trading floor in Butte that markets and sells power for PPL Montana in wholesale and retail energy markets throughout the western United States. PPL Montana and PPL EnergyPlus are subsidiaries of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL). More information about PPL Montana is available at www.pplmontana.com.