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By Olivia Weitz, Yellowstone Public Radio

NorthWestern Energy builidng in Butte, MT.

Environmental groups are requesting an ecological assessment and monetary relief after a dam in southwest Montana operated by NorthWestern Energy malfunctioned last fall, leaving fish stranded.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Madison River Foundation want the utility company to pay for an ecological assessment on the Madison River, including an inventory of the brown trout population.

The groups filed a citizen complaint Wednesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, saying they’re concerned that low flows impacted the fishery downriver from Hegben Dam, which malfunctioned in late November.

“What we are hoping for is that if there is some pretty obvious and negative consequences associated with NorthWestern’s dewatering of the Madison River that they pony up and make sure that people who are financially damaged from this event are made whole,” said Derf Johnson, a staff attorney with the Montana Environmental Information Center.

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