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Northern Montana Tribes and rural communities receive $900,000 to assess and revitalize properties

EPA Brownfields grants to support cleanup and redevelopment projects in rural communities, including Blackfeet, Rocky Boys and Fort Peck Reservations

05/06/2020
Contact Information: 
Richard Mylott (mylott.richard@epa.gov)
303-312-6654

Helena, Mont. -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Blackfeet Tribe, the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe and the Bear Paw Development Corporation will each receive $300,000 in EPA Brownfields grant funding to assess, cleanup and revitalize property in rural and tribal communities across northern Montana.  The northern Montana grant recipients are among 151 communities across the nation receiving over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.

“These EPA Brownfields funds will support priority environmental assessment and redevelopment projects in communities across northern Montana,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “EPA continues to find ways to help tribal and local partners address potential contamination concerns and create new economic opportunities and community assets.”

"Cleaning up these sites benefits everyone and will turn vacant properties into new opportunities like public parks, housing, and local businesses,” said Senator Jon Tester. “These grants offer new opportunities, and will create jobs, boost small businesses, and strengthen local economies across Montana.”

Bear Paw Development Corporation of Northern Montana 

Brownfields Assessment Grant: $300,000 

The Bear Paw Development Corporation of Northern Montana will use EPA’s Brownfields Assessment grant to conduct four Phase I and five Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop six cleanup plans and one reuse plan, and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the counties of Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, and Chouteau as well as the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in north central Montana. Priority sites include an underutilized dilapidated former county courthouse building, a multi-unit housing complex, and two vacant gasoline stations. 

“The brownfields assessment program has been a critical resource for our region in spurring redevelopment of underutilized properties,” said Samantha Chagnon, director of Community Planning and Brownfields at the Bear Paw Development Corporation. “We are so glad to be able to continue our partnership with the EPA and to further provide this important funding opportunity to our communities.”

Blackfeet Tribe, Browning, MT 

Brownfields Assessment Grant: $300,000 

The Blackfeet Tribe will use an EPA Brownfields Assessment grant to prepare an updated inventory of brownfield sites and conduct 10 Phase I and nine Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop five cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on several abandoned sites in the Town of Browning and throughout the Blackfeet Reservation. Priority sites include a former cattle dip vat at the Skate Park Trail, which was filled with an arsenic solution and used to eradicate ticks from cattle; the vacant Free School; and four abandoned tribal government and maintenance buildings. The Blackfeet Reservation contains a Qualified Opportunity Zone. 

“On behalf of the Chairman and Council of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Committee, the Blackfeet Environmental Program we are pleased to be the recipient of the Brownfields Assessment grant,” said Gerald Wagner, director of Blackfeet Environmental Programs. “We will use the resources to expand our work to protect the lands and the people on the Blackfeet Reservation with the support the Tribe has received over the past 30 years from EPA. We will be putting this grant award to positive and constructive work in much needed areas on the reservation to bring impacted lands back into economic and green space production.”

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Wolf Point, Poplar, and Brockton, MT 

Brownfields Assessment Grant: $300,000 

The Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes will use the EPA grant funds to conduct 20 Phase II environmental site assessments and develop 20 cleanup plans. Grant funds also will be used to develop a community involvement plan and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on unsafe, dilapidated, and abandoned homes within the communities of Wolf Point, Poplar, and Brockton in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The communities of Poplar and Brockton are located within the same Qualified Opportunity Zone. 

Nationwide, this year, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.

  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

Background

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States.  EPA’s Brownfields program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0

For more on the Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more on EPA’s Brownfields program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

For information on the studies related to the Brownfields program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits