Out of the millions of federal stimulus dollars poured into Montana, Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently took aim at $50,000 intended for resurfacing a public tennis court in Bozeman as a laughable misuse of funds. Mayor Jeff Krauss was quick to defend the plan, pointing out that stimulus money was being used to finance a variety of other outdoor recreation projects statewide. Here's a look at where some of the funds are indeed being put into play in Montana's forests, streams and cities.
•The Kootenai National Forest will get 10 new employees and will hire an additional five to eight people on a Montana Conservation Corps crew this summer to help reconstruct and clear trails in the backcountry. The forest received $1 million in stimulus funds for the trail work, which also involves rebuilding five bridges.
•If all goes according to plan, Missoula youngsters will have four new playgrounds to romp on this summer. The state legislature allocated $380,000 for a project to revamp three playgrounds and construct a new one with design input from the community.
•The St. Louis Mine Reclamation project was allocated $300,000 to keep heavy metals from leaching into Missoula County's Ninemile watershed. Trout Unlimited is helping with the project and hopes to inspire similar efforts from conservation-minded hook-setters around Montana.
•Bitterroot National Forest snagged $1.8 million to upgrade some of its most heavily used recreation sites. The money will be spent reconstructing trails and trailheads, rehabbing campgrounds and putting in a boat dock at Como Lake.