85-1-601. Purpose and policies. (1) The legislature finds and declares that in order that the people of Montana may enjoy the benefits of the state's water and other renewable resources, the state shall establish this long-term renewable resource grant and loan program providing financial and administrative assistance to private for-profit, private, nonprofit, local government, state government, and tribal government entities for renewable resource grant and loan projects.
(2) The purpose of the renewable resource grant and loan program is to further the state's policies, set forth in 85-1-101, regarding the conservation, development, and beneficial use of water resources and to invest in renewable natural resource projects that will preserve for the citizens of Montana the economic and other benefits of the state's natural heritage.
(3) The legislature recognizes the value of Montana's renewable resources; therefore, it is appropriate that a portion of the taxes and other revenue from nonrenewable resources be invested in the replacement of nonrenewable resources with the development of renewable resource projects that will continue to provide tax and other revenue and will preserve for the citizens the economic and other benefits of the state's natural heritage.
(4) The conservation, development, management, and preservation of water and other renewable resources are high priorities because a large portion of Montana's present and future economy is based either directly or indirectly on the wise use of these resources.
(5) Developments supported by this part may not significantly diminish the quality of existing public resources, such as land, air, fish, wildlife, and recreation opportunities.
(6) This renewable resource grant and loan program supports, in part, the implementation and development of the comprehensive, coordinated, multiple-use water resources plan known as the "state water plan". In making funding recommendations for grants and loans, the department shall give preference to projects that will implement state water plan priorities if, in all other respects, the proposed projects are equal in public benefit and technical feasibility.
(7) Source watersheds are an integral component of Montana's water resources. Source watersheds that provide the majority of the state's drinking and irrigated agricultural water are particularly important to maintaining the reliability, quantity, timing, and quality of Montana's environmental, drinking, and agricultural water supply. Because source watersheds have a critical role in enhancing water supply reliability, the maintenance and repair of source watersheds are eligible for the renewable resource grant and loan program.
(8) Soil and range health play a vital role in protecting and sustaining Montana's renewable natural resources by retaining water, soil, and nutrients in place on the landscape. Enhancing soil and range health will provide long-term benefits to Montana's water and other renewable resources and to the users, wildlife, and economies they support.