DOJ: News Release

Governor Approves Upper Clark Fork Restoration Projects

HELENA – Governor Judy Martz approved five restoration projects in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin for a total of approximately $3.4 million. The five projects and funding levels approved are:

  • $503,006 to Butte-Silver Bow City/County for the Basin Creek Dam Rehabilitation.
  • $1,188,905 to Butte Silver Bow City/County for the Butte Drinking Water Infrastructure Replacement Year 3.
  • $995,000 to Anaconda-Deer Lodge City/County for the Anaconda East Fourth Street Water Main Improvements.
  • $282,758 to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Upper Willow Creek Restoration Project Implementation.
  • $408,810 to the Watershed Restoration Coalition of the Upper Clark Fork for the East Valley Watershed Project.

“I’m pleased to give the final approval to these five projects that will improve the drinking water supplies and delivery systems of the Butte and Anaconda communities and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in tributary watersheds of the Upper Clark Fork River,” said Martz. “They fit well with the purposes of the state’s natural resource damage lawsuit to compensate the public for the basin’s lost waters, fish, and wildlife and for associated losses of public drinking water supplies and recreational opportunities.”

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 can 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 fourth year for the grant program. With this year’s approved projects, a total of 33 projects have been approved for about $25 million.

In March 2003, the program received six grant applications totaling approximately $4.8 million. In summer 2003, program staff and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Education Advisory Council reviewed the six 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 five projects for funding in a draft work plan that was submitted for public comment.

After considering the public comment, both councils recommended that the Governor approve funding for five of the six projects. The Thompson Park Rehabilitation and Restoration project was not recommended. The Governor concurred with the final recommendations of these two Councils.

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 are due in early March.

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