Governor Approves Upper Clark Fork Restoration Projects
HELENA – Governor Martz approved four restoration projects in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin that had been recommended for funding by the Trustee Restoration Council.
The four projects approved by the governor total approximately $8.8 million:
- Greenway Service District, “Silver Bow Creek Greenway,” $4,955,273 ($2,449,940 for 2003 and $2,505,333 for 2004)
- Butte-Silver Bow Local Government, “Drinking Water Infrastructure Replacement Year 2,” $1,168,842
- Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, “Main Street and Bowman Field Water Distribution Upgrade,” $749,942
- The Conservation Fund, “Stuart Mill Bay Acquisition,” $2,000,000
“I’m pleased to give the final approval to these four projects that will help make the basin’s natural resources healthy and provide opportunities for the public to enjoy those resources,” said Martz. “They will improve the delivery of clean water to Butte and Anaconda residents, restore fish and wildlife habitat along Silver Bow Creek and provide public access to these restored areas, and preserve the natural resources and historical public use of the Stuart Mill Bay area at Georgetown Lake,” she added.
Funding comes 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 state sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1983 and settled several portions of the lawsuit in 1998, receiving $215 million. About $130 million of that is earmarked to restore the injured natural resources in 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 governmental 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 third year for the grant program.
In March, the program received five grant applications totaling approximately $10.8 million. Four projects were judged as meeting all the minimum qualification determinations and one project failed. The program staff and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Education Advisory Council reviewed the four 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 – recommended the four projects for funding in a draft work plan that was submitted for public comment. After considering the public comment, the Council recommended that the Governor fund all four projects for a total of $8,874,057.
Successful grant recipients will enter into contracts with the state Natural Resource Damage Program to implement the projects. Applications for next year’s grant cycle will be available in early January and due in early March.