Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA) receives $25,000 grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation to conduct rural and tribal engagement in southern Montana.

Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $25,000 grant by the Montana Healthcare Foundation to conduct passenger rail community engagement in three rural and three tribal communities in southern Montana. Tribal nations include the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Crow Tribe, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Non-tribal rural communities involved in the project include Paradise (Sanders County), Forsyth (Rosebud County), and Glendive (Dawson County). Limited transportation options in these and surrounding communities restrict access to social and economic opportunities, which adversely impacts health outcomes. The project will document benefits to these communities from passenger rail service and will be supported by Montana State University Extension.

The report generated from the project is part of BSPRA’s continuing efforts to restore Amtrak’s North Coast Hiawatha (NCH) route stretching from Chicago to Seattle/Portland via southern Montana, which will provide vital economic and social benefits to rural and tribal communities and markedly advance transportation equity. BSPRA hopes that the Federal Railroad Administration will recommend the renewal of service on the NCH line to Congress this November as an outcome of the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study, which is currently underway. 

We want to hear the voices of those who will benefit most from renewed passenger rail service in southern Montana,” says BSPRA Chairman Dave Strohmaier. “To that end, we’re grateful for the Montana Healthcare Foundation’s recognition of transportation as a social determinant of health and for their investment in this critical community outreach project.” According to Strohmaier, “the findings of these six meetings will directly address two of the review criteria for the FRA long-distance study: advancing the economic and social well-being of rural areas of the United States, and reflecting public engagement and local and regional support for restored passenger rail service.”

This Montana Healthcare Foundation-funded project will break new ground in Montana by focusing on how a rail transportation system can reduce a host of serious health disparities in the state including chronic conditions, accidents, and the absence of care.

About Montana Healthcare Foundation

The Montana Healthcare Foundation makes strategic investments to improve the health and well-being of all Montanans. Created in 2013, MHCF has more than $200 million in assets making it Montana’s largest health-focused, private foundation. MHCF contributes to a measurably healthier state by supporting access to quality and affordable health services, conducting evidence-driven research and analysis, and addressing the upstream influences on health and illness. For more information, visit

About Montana State University Extension 

Montana State University Extension is a statewide educational outreach network that applies unbiased, research-based university resources to practical needs identified by the people of Montana in their home communities.

About the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA)

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is a subdivision of state government and the largest transportation district in Montana. It was formed to re-establish safe, reliable, and sustainable passenger rail service across southern Montana and comprises 20 member counties and ex officio membership of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne tribes, Amtrak, Montana Department of Transportation, and BNSF Railway. Passenger rail service through southern Montana ended 43 years ago with the loss of Amtrak’s North Coast Hiawatha and the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority believes that together we can bring it back. Learn more at

For more information about the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority and the Montana Healthcare Foundation Grant, please contact:

Dave Strohmaier

Chairman, Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority

[email protected] or 406.529.5580

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