September 23-24, 1999

ITEM 104-1505-R0999 Preliminary Authorization for Planning and Construction of a Natural Resources Research Facility; Montana Tech of The University of Montana

THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the establishment of a Natural Resources Research Facility at Montana Tech of The University of Montana. The total estimated cost of the project is $20,000,000. The facility would be located at the western side of the Montana Tech campus. The building will be 100,000 gross square feet with approximately 80,000 square feet of net usable space. In the facility, 68,000 square feet will be devoted to research offices and laboratories and 12,000 square feet will be devoted to public spaces, including a museum and conferencing. Funding for the project is expected to be from the federal government and private sources. State support is not forever excluded from consideration, but Montana Tech is not seeking state support for planning or construction at this time. An initial appropriation of $1,500,000 for planning and architectural design is sought from the 106th Congress. The design phase is estimated at 16 months followed by a construction period estimated to be 30 months.

EXPLANATION: The Natural Resources Research Facility will establish a focus for all Montana Tech research efforts in the sustainable development of the earth's energy, mineral, and water resources. As our national need for non-renewable resources grows, so does our awareness of the impact of these needs on our environment. As a consequence, we are seeing an increasing need to develop ever improved environmentally sound methods of discovery, recovery, processing, and reuse of the earth's water, mineral, and energy resources required by our society. This proposal will draw together the existing efforts in these areas of research and technology and will provide needed laboratory space for this quickly growing field of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research. The new facility will also create a nucleus for a campus research park and a technology transfer center to allow collaborative research with government and industry. There exists a major potential for economic development opportunities.

A major goal of the is the generation of new information and transfer of technologies related to resource management. To support this objective, the facility will include a conference center and associated public spaces. The existing Montana Tech Mineral Museum will be moved to the new facility to be used as a research resource and will be expanded to include a broader array of geological and earth science exhibits for general public display and teaching. This will also give the campus and the community a flexible meeting and conferencing facility and will allow the Montana Tech campus to become the focus for scientific and technical exchanges in the immediate vicinity of Butte and throughout Southwest Montana.

The facility will be established and supported by a combination of federal, college, and private sector funding. Regential authorization will enhance Montana Tech's ability to secure federal and private funding.