Governor, AG Tour NRD Program Project Site in Butte
HELENA – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Attorney General Mike McGrath toured an uptown Butte waterline construction site Thursday and highlighted a number of Butte-area projects funded by Upper Clark Fork River Basin reclamation funds.
“From uptown Butte to the Milltown Dam, we are starting to see the benefits of this reclamation work,” Schweitzer said. “There is still much to be done, but jobs are being created for us now, and the land and river are being restored for future generations of Montanans.”
The waterline project is one of 12 in Silver Bow County aimed at restoring and replacing natural resources harmed by decades of mining and mineral processing in the area. All told, more than $16 million worth of projects have been funded in Silver Bow County since 2000. About $29.8 million has been spent to date, and another seven projects requesting $7.5 million have been proposed and are pending public comment, review and final approval by the governor.
A 1999 partial settlement of a lawsuit against Atlantic Richfield (Arco) earmarked about $130 million to restore or replace the injured natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). The State filed the suit in 1983, seeking to recover damages for injuries to the water, soils, fish and wildlife in the basin and the public’s lost use and enjoyment of those resources.
“The restoration program is doing good work right here, right now, in Butte,” McGrath said. “Taken together, projects in the Butte and Anaconda areas account for 95 percent of the funds expended.”
Projects in Silver Bow County account for about 54 percent of the total dollars spent on UCFRB restoration projects. Other Butte-Silver Bow-area projects include development of the Silver Bow Creek Greenway, the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and replacement of the High Service drinking-water storage tank in Walkerville.
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County projects account for another 41 percent of funds, while small projects in Granite and Powell Counties, and some database planning in Missoula at the University of Montana account for the remaining 5 percent. A complete list of all the projects, including photos and summaries.
These projects are in addition to the $86 million earmarked for the cleanup of Silver Bow Creek. That project is being managed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.