River foundation and PPL to host meeting on river health, management

The Madison River Foundation and PPL Montana will be hosting a meeting next week to provide an update on conditions in the Madison River and operations at Hebgen Dam.

The meeting will provide citizens a chance to hear about how the energy company manages flows out of Hebgen and Ennis Dam as well as about research they’ve done in the river and it’s reservoirs, said Richard Lessner, executive director for the Madison River Foundation.

“They develop just a ton of really good data every year,” Lessner said.

The meeting will also provide information on the river flows required by PPL’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license.

Flow management in the Madison River can be a controversial topic, but at least this will allow PPL explain the FERC requirements under their permit to operate Hebgen Dam.

“Not everyone may agree on how they manage those flows, but at least they can hear the reason and rationale for how they manage those flows,” Lessner said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will also have staff there to discuss the fishery health, he said.

The data collected by FWP and PPL biologists provides a wealth of information on the aquatic health of the river, Lessner said.

Keeping the public up to speed on what’s happening on the Madison River and with Hebgen Dam is important, said David Hoffman, PPL spokesman.

PPL will also provide a river flow outlook for the summer and discuss progress on repairs to Hebgen Dam, which had an outlet malfunction nearly three years ago. PPL has been working to repair the dam since, but the project has taken a long time mainly because of the short construction season.

A major part of PPL’s FERC license to operate Hebgen Dam is resource management, Hoffman said. So it’s important to the company to monitor river health.

“It’s probably the most important thing we do is resource protection and enhancement,” he said.

The meeting will be June 20 at 7 p.m. at the Madison Valley Public Library in Ennis.

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