DOJ: News Release

State Solicits Comments on Draft Upper 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 announced Thursday.

The Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council has recommended that five grant proposals receive either full or partial funding totaling $5,046,940. Proposals are:

  • Bonner Pedestrian Bridge Replacement – Recommended for full funding of $975,652.
  • Butte Waterline – Year 6 recommended for full funding of $1,819,581; Year 7 not recommended for funding.
  • Upper Little Blackfoot River Restoration – Recommended for partial funding of $216,044.
  • Anaconda Waterline – Recommended for full funding of $1,964,263.
  • Basin-wide Wetland/Riparian Mapping – Recommended for partial funding of $71,400.

The 30-day public comment period on these recommendations, detailed in the Draft 2006 Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Work Plan [link removed on 12/7/06], begins on September 7. The public may submit written comments or provide oral comments at the public hearing to be held at the Butte Red Lion, 2100 Cornell, on October 2 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 deadline for comments is October 10.

“It is important that the public have the opportunity to comment on these proposals and funding recommendations before the Governor makes his final decision,” Fox said. “In particular, we would like to hear what people think of an option for the Butte waterline project. We have the situation where all of the bids made under the competitive bidding process exceeded the available funding, so we are looking at allowing the waterline replacement work to be done in-house by Butte-Silver Bow.”

Based on the comments received over the next month, both the Advisory Council and Trustee Restoration Council will make final funding recommendations to Gov. Schweitzer, who is expected to make his funding decisions in December.

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. To date, the Governor has approved 50 projects for a total of $38 million.

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