DOJ: News Release

State Solicits Comments on Draft Clark Fork Restoration Work Plan

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

The Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council has recommended that six grant proposals receive either full or partial funding totaling $4,685,278. Proposals are:

  • Developing Acid/Heavy Metal-Tolerant Releases – Recommended for full funding of $253,926 over four years.
  • Butte Drinking Water Infrastructure Replacement, Year Four – Recommended for full funding of $1,197,971.
  • Anaconda West Fourth Street Water Main Improvements – Recommended for full funding of $1,223,374.
  • Butte High Service Tank Replacement – Recommended for full funding of $1,192,802.
  • Clark Fork Watershed Education Program – Recommended for full funding of $673,801 over three years, subject to annual funding reconsideration.
  • Browns Gulch Watershed Assessment Project – Recommended for partial funding of $143,404 over two years.

“These projects will improve Butte and Anaconda’s drinking water systems, assess natural resource conditions in a tributary stream to Silver Bow Creek and provide seed and plant material for re-vegetating areas affected by mining,” Fox said. “They will also allow students throughout the Basin to use Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River as large-scale outdoor laboratories in a field science program.

“We look forward to gathering additional public input to assist the governor in making a final funding decision on these projects.”

The 30-day public comment period on these recommendations, contained in the Draft 2004 Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Work Plan, began September 10.

The public may submit written comments or provide oral comments at the public hearing to be held at the Butte Red Lion, 2100 Cornell in Butte on Thursday, September 16, 2004 at 7 p.m. Written comments may be sent to the Natural Resource Damage Program, P.O. Box 201425, Helena, MT 59620-1425, faxed to 444-0236 or e-mailed to nrdp@mt.gov. The submission deadline is Oct. 15, 2004.

The Natural Resource Damage Program will also be hosting an Open House that evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Red Lion. Staff members will be on hand to meet citizens, answer questions and review program materials about restoration activities in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.

The state sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1983 and settled several portions of the lawsuit in 1999, receiving $215 million. About $130 million is earmarked to restore or replace 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. 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.

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