DOJ: News Release

State Seeks Comments on Clark Fork Restoration Projects

HELENA – The state is seeking public comment on the latest round of funding recommendations for projects designed to restore the Upper Clark Fork River Basin, Restoration Program chief Carol Fox said Friday.

The Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council in August recommended funding for four projects totaling $8.8 million ($6.3 million in 2003 and $2.5 in 2004):

  • Greenway Service District, “Silver Bow Creek Greenway,” $2,449,940 in 2003 and $2,505,333 in 2004
  • Butte-Silver Bow Local Government, “Butte Waterline,” $1,168,842
  • Anaconda Deer Lodge County, “Anaconda Waterline,” $749,942
  • Conservation Fund, “Stuart Mill Bay Acquisition,” $2,000,000

“Although only four projects have been recommended for funding this year, they are substantial both in terms of benefits to the public and cost,” Fox said. “They involve delivering clean water to Butte and Anaconda residents, purchasing property on Georgetown Lake for public use and natural resource protection, restoring fish and wildlife habitat along Silver Bow Creek, and providing public access to restored areas along the creek.”

Funding for the restoration projects comes from the partial settlement of a a lawsuit brought by the state to recover damages for injuries to natural resources caused by decades of mining and smelting in the Butte-Anaconda area. 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 in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown Dam near Missoula.

The Natural Resource Damage Program within the Montana Department of Justice administers the grant program, which is in its third year. Program staff and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Education Advisory Council reviewed this year’s 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. Based on the comments received over the next month, the Trustee Restoration Council will make final funding recommendations to Gov. Martz, who is expected to make her funding decisions in December.

The 30-day public comment period on these recommendations, detailed in the Draft 2002 Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Work Plan, begins September 9 and runs through October 11. The public may submit written comments during this period or provide oral comments at the public hearing to be held at the Anaconda Community Center, 118 East 7th Street in Anaconda on Tuesday September 24 at 7p.m.

Written comments may be sent by October 11 to Kathleen Coleman, Natural Resource Damage Program, P.O. Box 201425, Helena, MT 59620-1425, faxed to 444-0236 or e-mailed to nrdp@mt.gov.

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