The University of Montana has received a $45 million cooperative agreement award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The five-year research award is the largest in the history of UM.

Under the agreement, UM will help the Corps study and solve environmental and cultural resource problems across the nation. The University also will assist the Corps in implementing land and water ecological restoration, maintenance and training for optimal management of public resources.

Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship Scott Whittenburg said the agreement will involve almost every aspect of the University.

"The general thrust is for projects of interest to the Army Corps that usually involve either ecological research, cultural or anthropological questions, law and policy, Whittenburg said. "With the projects they have to work on for other federal agencies,  the Corps has to be concerned about the ecological impacts with the work that needs to be done, any cultural or anthropological issues that might arise, and they have to be cognizant of any local or federal laws or policies that may be impacted, so within the scope of this agreement, we'll be providing that support for the Corps."

Whittenburg said UM competed vigorously for the grant with many other universities across the nation.

"They posted their request on the federal website, and many universities responded," Whittenburg said. "We don't know how many other universities will be involved in the project, but we know that we were one of those chosen."

Whittenburg said the agreement is set to begin on June 1, and could eventually benefit local businesses and provide some employment, especially with graduate and post-graduate students. He expects the university's relationship with the Corps to continue far beyond the five-year scope of the initial agreement.

Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship Scott Whittenburg