DOJ: News Release

State Solicits Comments on Draft Conceptual Restoration Plan for the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex; Restoration of the Stream and Floodplain Ecosystem

HELENA – The Montana Department of Justice, Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) is soliciting public comment on a draft conceptual restoration plan for the Upper Blackfoot River and Mining Complex (UBMC) project area, located in headwaters of the Blackfoot River about 15 miles east of Lincoln.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is the lead agency in addressing the contamination at the UBMC site and is coordinating the remedial activities with the NRDP and the United States Forest Service. Remedial actions related to removal of the Mike Horse Dam and impoundments, and removal of mining tailings associated with the UBMC, are now in the planning stages.

The Draft Conceptual Restoration Plan proposes general approaches to integrating restoration and remediation activities in an efficient and compatible manner in order to maximize benefits to the ecosystem and native fish habitat within the available funding.

Through a 2008 settlement with ASARCO and Arco, the state obtained about $40 million for remediation and restoration of the UBMC site.

The remediation and restoration actions at the UBMC are slated to occur over the next decade. As summarized in the Conceptual Restoration Plan, specific elements of the overall restoration include:

  • restoring stream channel and floodplain function,
  • creating riparian conditions that exchange nutrients and other materials with the aquatic environment, and
  • providing high quality habitat for westslope cutthroat trout and other aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

Throughout the life of this project, continued coordination among the various state and federal agencies involved with remediation and restoration activities at the UBMC will be critical to achieving restoration goals at the site. This draft plan serves as a working document and is the first of several documents that will culminate in a final restoration plan for the UBMC project area. The document can be found on the NRDP website.

The public comment period on this document begins on February 18, 2011. 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 Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on April 15, 2011.

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