DOJ: News Release

State Solicits Comments on Clark Fork Restoration Work Plan

HELENA – The State of Montana is soliciting public comments on draft funding recommendations for this year’s restoration projects on the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.

The Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council has recommended that six projects receive funding from the partial settlement of a lawsuit brought by the state in 1983 to recover damages to natural resources caused by decades of mining and smelting in the Butte-Anaconda area. The 30-day public comment period on the recommendations, contained in the Draft 2001 Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Work Plan, begins Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001.

“We have already received input from many entities on these projects,” said Carol Fox, chief of the state’s restoration program. “The applications were subject of an intense review by program staff and advisory council members. It’s now time to hear from the general public about which ones they believe should be funded, before the Governor makes her final decisions.”

The state sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1983 and settled several portions of the lawsuit in 1998, receiving $215 million. About $130 million is earmarked to restore the injured natural resources of the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown Dam near Missoula.

The state has developed guidelines for spending the funds, outlining a process in which public and private entities and individuals could submit grant proposals for restoration projects. The Natural Resource Damage Program, which is part of the Montana Department of Justice, administers the grant process. This is the second year for the grants program.

In March, the program received eight grant applications for approximately $6.1 million. The program staff and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Education Advisory Council reviewed the proposals and made recommendations to the Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council. That council – made up of the governor’s chief of staff, the attorney general, the directors of the state’s three natural resource agencies and the chairman of the advisory council – approved the funding recommendations that are now subject to public comment.

The Trustee Restoration Council recommended that the following six projects, totaling $5.3 million, be funded:

  • Greenway Service District, “Silver Bow Creek Greenway,” $1,206,755
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, “Watershed Land Acquisition,” $2,065,700
  • Butte-Silver Bow Local Government, “Drinking Water Infrastructure Replacement Phase I,” $1,165,795
  • Montana Council of Trout Unlimited, “Antelope and Wood Creek Riparian Management Project,” $10,000
  • County Water and Sewer District of Rocker, “Rocker Water Reclamation and Habitat Enhancement Project,” $719,566
  • Watershed Restoration Coalition of the Upper Clark Fork, ” East Deer Lodge Valley Watershed Project,” $135,941

The public comment period on the draft work plan runs from October 4 through November 5. The public may submit written comments during this period or provide oral comments at the public hearings to be held at the Butte Ramada Copper King Inn, 4655 Harrison Avenue, on Monday Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. and at the Deer Lodge Central Park Center Music Room, 444 Montana Avenue, on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

After the comment period, the Trustee Restoration Council will make final funding recommendations to Gov. Martz. She is expected to make her funding decisions in December.

Written comments may be sent by November 5 to Carol Fox, Natural Resource Damage Program, P.O. Box 201425, Helena, Mont. 59620-1425 or faxed to (406) 444-0236.

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