Clark Fork River Remediation and Restoration at Milltown Dam Site Complete
On Monday morning, Attorney General Steve Bullock joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Montana Office Director Julie DalSoglio, Department of Environment Quality Director Richard Opper and Tribal Council member for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Steve Lozar at the former Milltown Dam site to celebrate the successful conclusion of the final stage of remediation and restoration construction work.
The EPA-led remediation and the state-led restoration activities have now been completed. The dam has been removed, the sediments excavated and hauled to a repository, a new floodplain rebuilt with wetlands and vegetation, and a new channel for the Clark Fork River constructed following the river’s historic course.
“Today, this area is almost unrecognizable. When my young kids or passing tourists come here, until they look at the historic displays, they will have no idea what a gift they have been given,” Bullock said. “Only when they dig into the history will they fully appreciate the hundreds of thousands of hours that have gone into this project, and the boldness of the undertaking.”
Bullock also noted that Envirocon and others contractors that have worked on the project have logged approximately 350,000 hours. Montana companies have done most of the work.
“EPA is really pleased that, just eight years after we made the decision to remove the dam, the cleanup and restoration is complete,” DalSoglio said. “We worked in cooperation with the state and local communities, and today, we can all celebrate the project’s successful conclusion.”
Restoration program manager Doug Martin said it is now time for the big equipment to move out and for the natural processes of a free flowing river system to do the rest of the work. With time, the Clark Fork River at the former Milltown Dam site will mature into a true river system that functions naturally and maintains itself.
Over the next few years, the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks will lead the effort to build the Milltown State Park.