Montana among fastest growing states

Montana is in the top 15 states when it comes to growth in America, having gained more than 10,000 people last year. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Utah was the fastest growing state in the country last year., growing by 2% to more than three million people. North Dakota rode the oil boom as the fastest growing state for the past four years.

The Big Sky state added 10,477 people last year, a 1% jump. There are now nearly 1,043,000 people in Montana.

Utah is joined by the other nearby states of Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado as top growth states.

The U.S. population was just over 324-million on Jan. 1, 2017.


Restoration work continues on historic Montana dam

It’s 85 feet high, 721 feet long and has survived more than a century’s worth of challenges.

The Hebgen Dam which is in the midst of a major renovation to make sure it will hold back the waters of the Madison River for another 100 years.

The dam has seen much in its 103 year existence — the 1959 earthquake that formed Quake Lake and a gate failure in 2008.

Look out below!

NorthWestern Energy has been working for the last several years to make sure it holds tough for another 103 years. This year is the spillway reconstruction, and to meet current earthquake requirements takes reinforced concrete — lots of reinforced concrete.

“Just in the month of June alone, we placed over 1,300 cubic yards of very heavily reinforced concrete in the chute. Which exceeds the original volume of concrete in the entire original spillway from 1960,” said NorthWestern Energy Senior Hydro Engineer B.J. Cope.

One major challenge to the work is the Blue Ribbon river trout fishery down stream. Maintaining that has been a primary function of this earth and concrete dam.

“The Madison maintains its fishery and it’s opportunities for the public again, largely because of the operation of this reservoir,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fish biologist Travis Horton.

The primary benefit of all this work is safety. Once damaged by the most powerful quake ever recorded in the Lower 48, Hebgen Dam will now take just about anything Mother nature throws its way.

“This structure is designed to withstand a maximum credible earthquake for this site, which is a 7.3 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter just 100 meters from this structure,” Cope said.

Repairs being made to the Dam

Some repairs had to be made to the dam itself, “to know that those guys did that work in the dead of winter remotely up here with a steam shovel and mules and rail cars is just more and more impressive,” Cope said.

“And the original picture is kind of do a little bit of justice but the more you go out here with manpower and machinery and getting things done the more impressive it is,” he added.

The spillway work will be completed by end of October.

The final restoration project at Hebgen Dam is reconstruction of the outflow system. That pipe is currently 50 feet long and lined with Douglas fir logs. Work begins on that next spring.